My Teacher is an Alien Review (Kids Sci-Fi)

My Teacher is an Alien: Sixth grade is just out of this world!
Susan Simmons can tell that her new substitute teacher is really weird. But she doesn’t know how weird until she catches him peeling off his face — and realizes that “Mr. Smith” is really an alien!

At first no one will believe her except Peter Thompson, the class brain. When Peter and Susan discover Mr. Smith’s horrible plans for their classmates, they know they have to act fast. Only they can get rid of their extraterrestrial visitor — and save the rest of the sixth-grade class from a fate worse than math tests! – Goodreads
Book Cover for My Teacher is an Alien

My Teacher is an Alien Review

 

My Teacher is an Alien was first published in 1989. When I was little I had no interest in reading these type of books, so My Teacher is an Alien flew completely under my radar. However, from what I’ve read on Goodreads, apparently this is the book that got a lot of kids interested in reading science fiction. After reading it, I can see why.  My Teacher is an Alien is one of those books that retains a timeless appeal. There is basically no technology mentioned in the book, so you don’t really notice anything feeling ‘dated’.  (Except for the fact that kids were actually playing together on the playground instead of texting.)

My Teacher is an Alien is one of those books that retains a timeless appeal. There is basically no technology mentioned in the book, so you don’t really notice anything feeling ‘dated’.  (Except for the fact that kids were actually playing together on the playground instead of texting.)  It’s written so that children can easily identify the children mentioned with their real world equivalents. The bully. The goody-two-shoes. The nerd that’s always reading. (I resemble that remark!) 

Let’s face it, My Teacher is an Alien is always going to be relatable. Because, whether its teacher or coworker, there’s always “aliens” amongst us. Those people that act so different you find yourself giving them the side-eye and wondering what they look like when they take off their mask. It’s a look in their eyes, the way they phrase things, or their unusual distaste of wonderful things (like reading!) that set them apart.  So, yes, imagining them going home, taking off their mask and exposing the lizard men underneath is ultimately entertaining. I mean, there’s at least one congressman I’m positive comes from a frog world!

The story in My Teacher is an Alien is told through the eyes of a sixth-grade girl named Susan. However, Susan being a girl basically never enters into the equation, and I really liked that. (In fact, when I was reading it with my child, she stopped me halfway through a chapter and said, “Susan is a girl’s name, right?”) Boy or girl, anyone who picks up this book is going to be able to enjoy it. Definitely an entertaining read, and still worth picking up years after it was published.

4 Star Rated My Teacher is an Alien Review

Title: My Teacher is an Alien | Series: My Teacher is an Alien #1 | Author: Bruce Coville | Publisher: Aladdin | Orig. Published: 1989 | Pages: 128 | ISBN13: 9781439112281 | Genre: Kids Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited | Purchase on Amazon

Grimm House Review (Children’s Dark Fantasy)

When Hadley’s parents leave on a cruise and then are reported lost at sea, her perfect world is turned upside down. In a flash, she is whisked away to a new life of drudgery at Grimm House where she waits on not one but two persnickety old aunts. As she grudgingly fulfills their commands of cooking, cleaning, and even after-dinner-dancing, she comes to suspect the aunts are really witches who are scheming to take the thing she loves best. With only her wits and the help of some unlikely new friends, Hadley makes a plan to escape Grimm House and find her way home before it’s too late.-Goodreads

Book cover for Grimm House

Grimm House Review

 

Grimm House was a great, creepy kids dark fantasy. Karen McQuestion used several familiar elements from fairy tales and added a few twists of her own. She does a good job of keeping it right on this side of being too creepy or sad for a kid’s book. There are definitely dark elements, but nothing that’s truly scary. The ending also nicely resolves an ‘ashes’ problem that could have worried kids later.

Hadley is a good character. She’s a budding ballerina who pretty much has it all. Her parents have the money to enable her to reach for the stars. They love her, and each other. She lives in a nice house and has best friends. Things seem pretty much perfect for her. She doesn’t know hardship. Not until the Grimm sisters show up. And then her life gets turned upside down.

The ‘lessons learned’ in Grimm House are timeless. Someone or something stepping in to give a ‘favored’ character an appreciation for what they have. Making them understand how good they really have it. The only difference is that in Grimm House, Hadley never comes across as the bratty character we want to see get her comeuppance. Instead, right from the beginning, she’s just a sad kid missing her parents. Still, she learns the lesson she’s meant to learn and is presumably all the better for it. And then, of course, there’s Hadley learning to depend on herself. To shore up her insides and become a confident little girl who realizes she has the power to help herself.

The ‘unlikely new friends’ mentioned in the synopsis really are unexpected. Their introduction made me giggle. Adults who have seen the old movie Joe’s Apartment are going to get a laugh out of this book. (And if you haven’t seen that ridiculous movie, you need too!) Help definitely does come from unexpected places.

Grimm House is well-paced and easy to lose yourself in. It is a children’s book, but a surprisingly enjoyable one for adults to read too. I found myself invested in how Hadley was going to escape the situation.  Karen McQuestion is a talented writer. Grimm House is suitable for ages 7+, I believe.

4 Star Rated Grimm House Review

Title: Grimm House | Author: Karen McQuestion (site) | Publisher: Nightsky Press | Pub. Date: 2015-12-1 | Pages: 202 | ISBN13: 9780986416460 | Genre: Children’s Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited | Purchase on Amazon

Beware the Attic Review (Kids Horror/Thriller)

in Beware the Attic, BJ is having weird… hallucinations. What’s really freaky is that they are being accompanied by some pretty terrifying noises from the attic. Then, to complete his lesson in terror … things… that are supposed to be stationary and NEVER move, have suddenly come roaring to life. He and his two best friends are going to have to go into the dark, creepy attic and check things out. The question is… will they come back down. – Goodreads

Book cover for Beware the Attic

Beware the Attic Review

 

I found this book via a search on Amazon for science fiction and fantasy tales for seven-year-olds. This is obviously not science fiction, just by a look at the cover. And within a few pages, it was clear that it would take a fairly well-read seven-year-old to be able to handle this book on their own, too. With words like “halitosis” “robust” and “abusive practice” it’d definitely present a challenge otherwise. A few chapters in, it’s revealed the character is in 6th grade, and I have to agree that that is a much more accurate age range for the book. (Double-checking Amazon, the intended age range is for “7-18 years”.) However, even adjusting a few years up for the appropriateness of the writing, it’s still a bit stilted and awkward. If I heard a sixth grader say “Woah Nelly!” I’d probably check him/her for a fever. That’s just not a commonly used phrase. This is just one of many examples.

However, stilted language aside, Beware the Attic was a strangely interesting read. The author did a great job of establishing the spook factor almost immediately. And yes, glowing red eyes are scary, no matter how old you are, so I would have been as freaked out as the kid was! I was definitely invested in the story soon on. I wanted to know what was the cause of the hallucinations? (Of course, my mind wanted to keep turning it towards mental illness, but the chances of that happening…) The climactic scene in the attic was insane, well-imagined, and hilariously disturbing.

The ending of Beware the Attic caught me by surprise. I wasn’t quite expecting things to work out the way that they did. I can see why the author did it, though. It was a good way to back off of the creepiness/weirdness and throttle back on the reader’s emotions. Overall, while Beware the Attic definitely needs its language ‘kid-checked’, it’s got a good story for middle-grade readers. She hits all the right points for appropriate level of creepiness, mystery, and unexpected twists.  I’m curious to see where Kitty Margo goes with the Tales from the Dead series.

3 Star Rated Review

Title: Beware the Attic | Series: Tales from the Dead | Author: Kitty Margo (site) | Publisher: Buttercup Publishing | Pub. Date: 2017-2-7 | Pages: 170 | ASIN: B01N813KPX | Genre: Children’s Horror, Mystery | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited | Purchase on Amazon.

Laura Monster Crusher Review

Lord of the Rings meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Duff in Laura Monster Crusher. This funny, fast-paced tale of middle-school monsters, self-image, and, oh yeah, actual monsters that want to kill everyone. Laura Ledwick is… well… large. The kids at school don’t let her forget it, and call her by various names: Laura Largebottom, Laura Lardo, Lots of Laura–you get the idea. When Laura’s family moves to the next town over before eighth grade, she expects more of the same. What she doesn’t expect are the snake-like yellow eyes watching her from the forest. Or the mysterious rattling in her closet. Or finally making real friends for the first time. Or handsome uber-nerd Liam R. Kelp, who might just be the cutest boy to ever wear a Science Is Cool T-shirt. But when Laura finally discovers the source of the rattling, things take on a whole new level of weird. It turns out Laura has just been given the most important job in the world: Monster Crusher. Her role is simple: protect the earth from the horrors beneath their feet. Eighth grade is about to get a lot more interesting.” – Goodreads

laura-monster-crusher

Laura Monster Crusher Review

 

I truly enjoyed reading Laura Monster Crusher. It’s got a lot of the classic elements that make it a story middle-graders can identify with. The teasing kids undergo for looking different, finding your talent and realizing you aren’t like everyone else.  Figuring out that being brave can lead to making new friends, and that standing up your friends is important too. Learning that bullies have their own issues, and learning to work together with them. As I said, lots of relatable elements.

The author combines these into a story that mixes fantasy and contemporary easily. In this way it is much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Laura has to go to school, act completely normal and then come home and fight the forces of darkness. She does this with a loving family, which I think is fantastic. Her younger brother is sight-impaired, and even though it obviously affects him, he never lets it slow him down. Her parents are an odd couple, but you can tell they love their  children without limits. To the point that they even moved, in part, to try to give Laura a new chance at school. However, even adults make mistakes, and one member of her family illustrates this clearly.

Laura Monster Crusher is touted as a ‘fat positive’ book. It does a good job of making Laura’s weight something that the readers don’t focus much on once it’s established its a problem. It shows that even though outsiders view her weight as a big deal (pardon the pun),  to the people that matter, it doesn’t matter. Laura doesn’t need to lose weight or fit a beauty template before she can make friends and even have a boy’s affections possibly returned. However, as time goes on and Laura exercises more, we do notice a positive change to her body. I’m glad this was included. No one should be shamed for being fat, but healthy habits like exercising should be noticed and cheered on. I liked that she didn’t shame herself, and we need more books with atypical heroines. Laura is brave, strong, stubborn and intelligent.

Overall, this was a great middle-grade read and I’d definitely highly recommend it for several reasons.

4 Star Rated Laura Monster Crusher Review

Title: Laura Monster Crusher | Author: Wesley King (site) | Publisher: Puffin Books | Pub. Date: 2017-4-4 | Pages: 304 | ISBN13: 978067007002 | Genre: Kids Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Date Read: 2016-10-4 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Junkyard Bot (Robots Rule #1)

Worker robots keep the high-tech town of Terabyte Heights humming, but ten-year-old George Gearing is the only one who has a robot for a best friend. When his scrappy but beloved pal Jackbot is hit by a car, the whiz kid re-engineers him with fancy parts from state-of-the-art TinkerTech Laboratories. Jackbot’s astounding new skills far exceed anything George–or even TinkerTech’s head of robotics–could ever have imagined. Will the villainous Dr. Micron destroy the whole town to see his tech-driven dream realized? Not if George can help it . . .Goodreads
Book cover for The Junyard Bot

Robots Rule: The Junkyard Bot Review

The Junkyard Bot, the first book in the Robots Rule series, gets everything off to a great start. It’s a middle-grade book that is all about George Gearing and the town of Terabyte Heights, and it’s obviously filled with robots. It’s got tons of action, a dash of mystery, and just a little bit of danger to keep things interesting.

C.J. Richards does a great job with The Junkyard Bot. The story has an appeal that seems ageless. When I was reading it, it was easy to forget that I was reading a kids book. It’s obviously very simply written, and things are put in simple and easy to understand terms. However, the fact that an author can work within those restrictions and still deliver a read to entertain an adult is something he deserves recognition for. (Though, to be fair, I do acknowledge I like children’s books a good bit more than your average adult.)

George is something of a prodigy in Junkyard Bot. He’s the little boy that all the senior citizens around depend upon to fix their less-than-perfect robots when they glitch. When he’s given the right tools and pieces, he manages to do something that no one has ever successfully done before. He tinkers constantly, and it is clear his mind operates on a level that not many do.

Goro Fujita’s rendition of George brings to mind another messy haired, glasses wearing little boy we all know and love. He’s even an orphan living with his grumpy uncle and manages to pull off something no one else has.  Fujita does a good job bringing certain sections of the story to life. His illustrations aren’t eye-catching or outstanding, but they do add a little something special to the book.

The Robots Rule series has its own website (RobotsRule.com). It’s pretty simple, but younger kids might enjoy spending a few minutes on there. They can do things like design their own Junkyard Bot or create a bookmark they can print out.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable start to a middle-grade science fiction series, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next one in the series. I love my local library for the kids’ books selections!

4 Star Rated The Junkyard Bot Review

Title: The Junkyard Bot | Series: Robots Rule | Author: C.J. Richards | Illustrator: Goro Fujita | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (site) | Pub. Date: 2014-10-7 | Pages: 208 | ISBN13: 9780544339361 | Genre: Kids Science Fiction | Language: English | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Library | Purchase on Amazon

Robot Revolution Review (House of Robots #3)

Robots on strike! Sammy’s underappreciated mechanical helpers are causing chaos in book 3 of the bestselling House of Robots series.

After a few early glitches in their relationship, Sammy and his “bro-bot” E are now fast friends. In fact, E is such a valued member of the family that the other electronic occupants of the House of Robots are feeling sorely unappreciated. And when Sammy’s inventor mom becomes distracted by a top-secret project, the robots soon begin to fall into disrepair.
Cue a robot revolt, with the droids wreaking harmless havoc in the house! Armed with pranks like glue in the shampoo bottles and flying toast missiles, the robots demand to be cared for. It’s up to Sammy and his disabled sister Maddie to keep the peace until his mom reveals her secret project…and why it was worth the wait. – Goodreads

Book cover for House of Robots by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Robot Revolution Review

 

Robot Revolution is another great entry into one of my favorite fiction series for kids. I love House of Robots series for so many reasons. First off, it’s an accessible science fiction series for middle graders. Then there’s the fact that it features a family that is diverse both in race and disability. And then, of course, one can’t forget the house full of robots. I can’t forget the fact that the mom is the brilliant scientist and the dad is the artist in the family.  But House of Robots has something going for it that I just don’t see in other middle-grade books. That is: The Hayes-Rodriguez family is tight. They love and support each other, and you know that no matter what goes wrong, they’re going to be together.

This book is where we see Sammy really show some frustration with his situation. He’s expressed it before in previous books, but this one feels like where he’s pushed to his limits.  Sammy has it easy in a lot of ways, but he’s still just a kid in a family where he is not the priority. Maddie is. It’s perfectly understandable that she tends to take precedence at times, but no one can blame Sammy for the frustration that arises in Robot Revolution. Everyone needs time and attention, whether you be a young boy or a neglected robot. And the robots are definitely feeling neglected too.

Chris Grabenstein and James Patterson do a great job of relaying the frantic chaos of the Hayes-Rodriguez house. All the characters (including the robots) in Robot Revolution are unique and memorable. The new ‘villain’ (well, school bully) is one that it’s quite easy to loathe. It’s nice to see him get his comeuppance at the end.  But the best thing that happens in Robot Revolution is one you’ll have to read to find out. I totally wasn’t expecting it, and it definitely made me happy to read. (I can only imagine the expression on my kiddo’s face when she finishes the last few chapters at bedtime tomorrow.)

House of Robots is a series you need to get for your kids. It deals with various issues that lots of kids can relate to. The illustrations are perfect. The dialogue, pacing, and action can’t be beat. It really is one of the best sci-fi novel series for kids on the market today.

5 Star Rated Robot Revolution Review

Title: Robot Revolution | Series: House of Robots #3 | Authors: James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein (site) | Illustrator: Juliana Neufeld | Publisher: Jimmy Patterson | Pub. Date: 2017-1-16 | Pages: 304 | ISBN13: 9780316349581 | Genre: Kids Science Fiction | Language: English | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Library | Purchase on Amazon

 

Zombie Kid: Case File 13 Review (Kids Horror)

You hold in your hands a very dangerous record.

I have collected every side of the story and every piece of evidence on case number 13. Now, in this file, you will find all you need to follow the dark adventures of Nick, Carter, and Angelo, three boys who possess an unhealthy obsession with monsters, in a town so grisly, so horrific—

Whoa, whoa, whoa. You’re telling it all wrong, dude. You make it sound like it’s a scary story.

Ahem. Well, Nick, it is a scary story. In this volume alone, there are voodoo queens, graveyards—even the dreaded Zombie King himself.

Yeah, but there’s also the part where Angie gets mashed potatoes all in her face, and the part where I use my cool zombie powers to—

All right, point taken. Now, if you don’t mind . . .

You hold in your hands a very dangerous, very funny record, detailing the hilarious adventures of three boys who have an awesome obsession with monsters. This is the first volume. Read on if you dare. . . . – Goodreads

Book cover for Zombie Kid

Zombie Kid Review

Zombie Kid, by J. Scott Savage, is an engrossing middle-grade book. It channels the adventure, wonder, and bonds of childhood with a breath-taking ease. It’ll make you laugh, groan, and surprisingly even make you feel on edge once or twice! And that’s just for adults. I can see kids being totally wrapped up in the story that the author tells here.

The thing that impressed me most about Zombie Kid was that the boys’ reactions. They were on point the whole time.  Even though this is obviously fiction, you could just see a group of boys doing this stuff. Especially thinking that being a zombie was cool, and not wanting to stop until it actually became an inconvenience.

The boys in this book are great. They’re at that age where they think girls have cooties.  They’re all different, but they’re all essentially good kids. They’ve got a strong bond that means they’ll do anything to help each other out. Basically, they’re brothers by choice, and I found myself hoping the trio’s friendship stayed strong long past this magical time in boyhood.

My favorite lines from the book came just before the inevitable battle against evil. It’s a section that emphasizes their bond.

“You think I’d let you go without me?” Angelo said. “This is the chance of a lifetime. If you’re going, I’m going.”

“I’m not gonna lie,” Carter said, rubbing his hands across his mud-stained pants. “I’m so scared I think I might hurl. But I’m not letting you do this alone. We’re the Three Monsterteers.” – Zombie Kid, Case File 13 #1, J.Scott Savage

Zombie Kid, the first book in the Case File 13 series, is very well written. It’s a book that’s enjoyable for both kids and adults. It gives a good mystery to solve that strikes that perfect balance of being neither too hard or blatantly obvious.  Zombie Kid is filled with action, believable dialogue, and a plot that’s just on the edge of spooky. Every section propels the story further forward, and the climactic battle will have you cheering.

Zombie Kid is an excellent start to the Case File 13 series, and I hope to read more about Nick, Carter, and Angelo in the future.

4 Star Rated Zombie Kid Review

Title: Zombie Kid | Series: Case File 13 #1 | Author: J. Scott Savage (site) | Publisher: HarperCollins | Pub. Date: 2012-12-26 | Pages: 288 | ISBN13: 9780062133250 | Genre: Kids Mystery | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Library | Purchase on Amazon

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education Review

Malala Yousafzai stood up to the Taliban and fought for the right for all girls to receive an education. When she was just fifteen-years-old, the Taliban attempted to kill Malala, but even this did not stop her activism. At age eighteen Malala became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ensure the education of all children around the world.

Malala’s courage and conviction will inspire young readers in this beautifully illustrated biography. – Goodreads

 

Malala: Activist for Girls' Education

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education Review

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education is the second children’s book I have read about Malala Yousafzai. It is, for the most part, beautifully illustrated. The artist has a great eye for colors and patterns that draw the eye and help hold young children’s (and flighty adults) attention to the page. They are clear enough that even if a child cannot read well, the pictures may be able to help them understand what is going on.

The story of Malala is one that most people know at this point. A brave young girl and her father dared to take a stand against the restrictions imposed by traditions and religion. As a result, Malala ends up getting shot in the head. Luckily, she survived, and her ordeal not only drew worldwide attention but helped to propel her and her activism even further into the public eye. Malala is a gorgeous young woman who is driven to help disadvantaged young girls and women across the world. She knows what is important, and she’s doing everything that she can to change it. She’s also a gifted speaker that can put things very clearly into terms that anyone can understand.

The author did a solid job of telling the story in Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education . He clearly lays out her brief history, highlighting all the important points without going into too much detail. At the back of the book, after all of the illustrations are done and the story is over, he has included more information about the young activist in a way that will appeal to older readers. This is perhaps a perfect addendum for adults who have read the simple story to their children and want to know more. This includes a timeline, information about Pakistan, the Pashtun People, etc. He educates readers about the status of girls and their ability to go to school, Malala’s take on religion, her influences, and ends with some of her best-known quotes.

Overall, this is a good book that clearly communicates the information about Malala Yousafzai for both younger and older readers. The combination of illustrations in the beginning and the mostly black and white photos in the back provide a range of visual stimulation. It is well-written, enjoyable, and educational.

Note: While I have primarily stopped reviewing nonfiction kids titles, this is a book that was scheduled months ago, and therefore was ‘grandfathered’ in.

4 Star Rated Malala: Activisit for Girls' Education Review

Title: Malala: Activist for Girl’s Education | Authors: Raphaeele Frier, Auraelia Fronty | Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing (site) | Pub. Date: 2017-2-7 | ISBN13: 9781632895912 | Genre: Children’s Nonfiction | Language: English | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: I received a copy from Netgalley for review consideration | Purchase on Amazon

The Cypher (Guardians Inc #1) Review

GUARDIANS INC.: THE CYPHER is two stories in one. A glimpse into a multinational company that is in reality the oldest of secret societies, one that spans close to seven thousand years of existence, weaving in and out of history, guiding and protecting humanity from creatures and forces that most of us believe are only mythology and fairy tales.

The other is the story of Thomas Byrne, a young man thrust into secrets he shouldn’t be aware of and dangers he shouldn’t face, but that he ultimately will, for he is a Cypher. The only one who can steer humanity’s future.

The ultimate conspiracy theory is that Magic is real. Kept in check by technology, but every five hundred years the balance can shift and, if it does, technology will fail and those creatures we’ve driven into myth will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future. – Goodreads

Book cover for The Cypher (Guardians Inc #1)

The Cypher Review

 

The Cypher, book one in the Guardians Inc series, is a well-written story for tween and teen readers. The main character, Thomas, is an almost sixteen-year-old boy whose parents mysteriously disappeared several months back. Obviously, things are not calm in his life, but they’re about to get shaken up even more as the book opens. And from there it just gets fun.

Julian Rosado-Machain knows how to write a book that appeals to the teenage need to feel or be special. He avoids making Thomas into a super-hero by engaging some very realistic limits. Thomas has one special power in The Cypher and that’s it. He can’t read minds, can’t bend steel, anything like that. So it’s easy to imagine that, theoretically, something like that might really happen to the reader. There’s definitely a certain appeal to that even I could recognize.

I loved the pieces of The Cypher that focused on Thomas and his grandfather. I think that the bond between grandchildren and grandparents is a special thing that we don’t see portrayed nearly often enough. You could sense that Thomas really loved and respected his grandfather. And also that the grandfather felt the same way about him.  I hope in future books we can see more of the two of them together. (At least once Grandpa is back to being Grandpa again.) I’m tempted to keep reading the series just to see if that happens.

The Cypher is one of those books that definitely fall firmly into the “science fiction fantasy” category. Technology, robots, elves, magic, and quantum physics all merge seamlessly within it.  There’s even a bit of H.P. Lovecraft’s sandbox mentioned within it. With a bit of classic good-versus-evil, plus a side bit of Thomas learning about the problems with hormones, and some loveable characters, it’s a book that’s easy to like. There are also some scenes where the sheer ridiculousness painted (like the Grotesque waving an energy drink banner) will make you snicker.

The dialogue is believable, the action is good, and the plot moves along fairly quickly. The few issues I had with it were fairly minor. (Ex: Thomas ends up in some situation no adult in their right mind would put him in.) Everything was fairly obvious to me as an adult reader, but even then I still enjoyed it.

In conclusion, The Cypher is a fun, quick read that grabs your attention but doesn’t need brain power to enjoy. It’s one I would definitely recommend for teen boys you’re trying to get hooked on reading. Truthfully, just pick it up for yourself anyways, it’s a nice palate cleanser.

4 Star Rated The Cypher Review

Title: The Cypher | Series: Guardians Inc #1 | Author: Julian Rosado-Machain (site) | Pub. Date: 2012-7-21 | Pages: 200 | ASIN: B008NU34A2 | Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy | Language: English | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Free on Amazon

 

 

Dead Air Review (Kat Sinclair Files #1)

Kat didn’t believe in ghosts—until now. . .

When Kat Sinclair’s dad tells her his new job hosting the ghost-hunting TV show Passport to Paranormal means they’ll be living on the road and visiting the world’s most haunted places, Kat packs her bags without a second thought. But the ghostbusting life isn’t as cool as Kat expected. The cast and crew don’t always get along, the producer’s annoying nephew has unexpectedly shown up, and Kat thinks the show—and her dad—might be cursed. Kat decides to start writing a blog with “a behind the scenes look at the creepiest show on TV.” But she soon discovers that going behind the scenes may just reveal more than she really wants to know. – Goodreads
Book cover for Dead Air

Dead Air Review

 

Dead Air is an excellent beginning to a new middle-grade paranormal fiction series written by Michelle Schusterman. It features a POC for the main character and has an LGBT edge to it (although that’s not immediately obvious).  It also has an awesome grandma in it. Gotta give points for the grandma who refuses to baby her grandchild, and was a former scream queen!

Kat, the main character in Dead Air, is going through some upheaval in her family when she ends up going on the road with her dad. It’s not long, though until the normal ‘human’ problems are buried underneath some paranormal ones. As someone who has never believed in ghosts, Kat finds herself having to re-evaluate her beliefs when spooky things begin happening around her. A curse, a ghost (or 3?), a new job for her dad, and a change of scenery all at once don’t exactly give Kat the stability she needs, either.

I liked Kat. She’s a perfectly believable character. She makes mistakes and she’s got a temper, but she stands up for herself and her father without thinking twice about it. She’s also pleasingly non-self-conscious, as she’s more concerned with what’s going on around her. She’s also got a decent sense of humor, a bit of a mouth, and a bit of a hero complex that gets her in over her head.

Things of note for those that might care: Dead Air takes place on and off ‘the set’ of a ghost hunt. There is some explanation of EVP and the kids do play with a Ouija board at one point. There is a character with a heart problem, and it does act up during the course of the investigation. However, no long-term damage is done to the person’s health.

A well-paced story with a bit of a spooky flair, Dead Air is not just for middle-graders. Easy to read and entertaining, Dead Air sets the perfect tone for what will hopefully be a popular series. I definitely recommend checking it out when you get a moment.

4 Star Rated Dead Air Review

Title: Dead Air | Series: The Kat Sinclair Files #1 | Author: Michelle Schusterman (site) | Publisher: Grossett & Dunlap | Pub. Date: 2015-9-1 | Pages: 248 | ISBN13: 9780448479804 | Genre: Paranormal Mystery | Language: English | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the publisher for review consideration | Purchase on Amazon

  • I love Audible. Tons of books, fantastic narrators, good prices.