Pacific Rising Review (Kaiju Military Thriller)

Title: Pacific Rising | Author: John W. Dennehy | Publisher: Severed Press | Pub. Date: 2017-6-22 | Pages: 236 | ASIN: B0734LRC4P | Genre: Kaiju Sci-Fi Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration


Pacific Rising

A hurricane brews in the Pacific, grounding all military aircraft. The storm awakens an ancient predator from a decades-long slumber, a Kaiju bent on ravaging Tokyo. Storm conditions and a treaty banning nuclear weapons hinder offensive capabilities. A Joint Task Force turn to U.S. Marine fighter pilots and Master Gunnery Sergeant James Penton to tackle the monster. Meanwhile, a Navy SEAL operation is underway in North Korea, with a mission to disable an old Soviet missile. After conventional weapons fail to stymie the destructive beast, leaders turn to Penton as a last-ditch effort to thwart the Kaiju, and prevent further death and devastation. Will the Marines prevail, or become victims of the creature? 

Pacific Rising is an action-packed thriller with a rare behind the scenes look at the ordnance that fuels modern aerial warfare. – Goodreads

Book cover for Pacific Rising

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Pacific Rising Review

For as much science fiction and horror as I’ve read, I had somehow never read a Kaiju novel. I’m not exactly sure how that happened, but I wasn’t even familiar with the term Kaiju, let alone the books. Not until I saw this review of Pacific Rising on Brian’s Book Blog. At that point, it was pretty much “Noooo, I can’t take this on. No matter how awesome it looks!” And then the author offered me a copy for review consideration, and I was had.

Pacific Rising took me a while to read. It was an easy read – normally the sort I’d finish in one sitting – but I was too easily distracted the week I was trying to read it. And even though it starts with a bit of tidal wave, the first two-thirds of the book feels a bit ‘slow’. I didn’t particularly care for the military thriller aspect, with the SEAL team’s mission. I think this was simply because I didn’t particularly care for either of the two characters. They felt very much -insert brave soldier stereotype- into -dangerous situation-, and were impossible to connect with. However, the last third was pure kick-butt action and lots of shooting and bombs and all sorts of ‘splosions to make a girl happy. 

Actually, probably my biggest problem with the book is that I just didn’t care for any of the characters. I rooted for Kate a few times (especially in one scene where she had to come face to eye with the Kaiju) but she just wasn’t an interesting character. I do heartily applaud John W. Dennehy for making Kate such a strong female, though. Especially since he also avoided butching her out. She was strong, confident, and skilled. She held her own alongside any of the guys, and faced down a situation that would had me crapping my pants and screaming.

The only other problem I had with the book was repetition. The author tends to repeat things a bit like ‘the screams of people being crushed to death in tanks’ happens several times. Yes, I understand those people would scream, but when you hear it a few times in quick succession, it loses its impact. And the headshots – I get that the guys are Seals and all, but the sheer amount of headshots takes them from ‘cool’ to ‘eh, another one bites the dust’. A little bit of variety, if only in the descriptions themselves, would have went a long way in making it a stronger read.

John Dennehy’s Pacific Rising was a great introduction to kaiju novels, and I look forward to reading more. Both kaiju novels and more work from Dennehy himself. While this wasn’t the best that it could be, Dennehy’s undeniably talented at delivering no holds barred action. His military background serves him well in Pacific Rising as well. If you like military thrillers and high-stakes action, you’ll appreciate a lot of Pacific Rising

While I can’t give Pacific Rising a glowing recommendation, I think if you like your monsters big and chompy, you’ve got to give it a try. It’s entertaining and easy to visualize. Lots of squishy people get squished. And sometimes, well, you just can’t ask for anything else, can you?

Ghost Knight Review (Kids Paranormal Fantasy)

Title: Ghost Knight | Author: Cornelia Funke | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Pub. Date: 2012-5-1 | Pages: 352 | ISBN13: 9780316056144 | Genre: Kids Paranormal Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Library


Ghost Knight

From international phenomenon Cornelia Funke, the bestselling author of Reckless and Inkheart.

Eleven-year-old Jon Whitcroft never expected to enjoy boarding school. Then again, he never expected to be confronted by a pack of vengeful ghosts, either. And then he meets Ella, a quirky new friend with a taste for adventure…

Together, Jon and Ella must work to uncover the secrets of a centuries-old murder while being haunted by terrifying spirits, their bloodless faces set on revenge. So when Jon summons the ghost of the late knight Longspee for his protection, there’s just one question: Can Longspee truly be trusted? – Goodreads
Book cover for Ghost Knight

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3 for 3-to-5: Sci-Fi & Scary Books for Young Readers #9

Featuring: The Book that Sneaks Up on You by C. Alex Velazquez, Captain Freddy Counts Down to School by Elizabeth Shreeve, and Quest for the Rogue Robot by Gerry Gaston.

3 for the 3-to-5 is where I give brief reviews of three books that I found in the 3-to-5 age range on Amazon. These books are theoretically in the science fiction and horror genres for little kids. (Although obviously for little readers ‘horror’ basically just means including ghosts and ghoulies.)


Book cover for The Book That Sneaks Up On You The Book That Sneaks Up on You Synopsis: Sometimes we all feel a little bit lonely. It’s the same with books. One book, in particular, hasn’t been read for a very, very long time, but maybe today is the day that you’ll change all of that. Just beware of being too curious! Some books remain closed for a reason! The Book That Sneaks Up On You is a creep-a-licious, slow-burn, text-heavy, eldritch-summoning literary children’s book romp,… meandering across forty (40) fun-filled pages that finishes up with a twist. Are you brave enough to read The Book That Sneaks Up On You? Open at your own peril… 😉

Rating: 2 out of 5

Review: I get where they were going with this, but it just wasn’t a success. It’s done very much “The Monster at the End of This Book” style, but it just falls flat. They try to counter the drab black and white with funny fonts, but some of the fonts mean kids aren’t going to be able to read it by themselves. The funky illustrations at the end are okay. Overall, just ‘meh’.

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Book cover for Captain Freddy Captain Freddy Counts Down to School Synopsis: It’s Freddy’s first day of school, and he needs to get ready. But school is big, it’s far away, and it’s full of strangers. Luckily, Freddy remembers he has work to do—in space! When his mom reminds him to put on his shoes, he pulls on his moon boots instead and blasts off. Captain Freddy’s adventures in space may just make him ready for his big day back on Earth.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: Captain Freddy Counts Down to School has simple, brightly colored illustrations. It shows kids how they can use their imagination to deal with something that scares them. That they can turn even getting ready for school into a bit of space-faring fun. While it was nothing exceptional, this was a cute, easy-to-read book that would be great for beginning readers just heading into Kindergarten.

 

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Book cover for Quest for the Rogue Robot

Quest for the Rogue Robot Synopsis: As the Space Ranger, your mission is to capture an elusive Robot in this “Choose Your Own Path” Galactic adventure! Can you follow the right trail to catch your prey? Your decisions will guide your journey as you find and return the advanced robot that has suddenly disappeared from a top secret research facility. And so begins your Epic Adventure!

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review: A decent, simple ‘choose your own adventure’ book for beginning readers with a science-fiction spin to it. Quest for the Robot is easy to follow and well-illustrated. A good intro to these type of books, especially for adventurous little space rangers.

 

 

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Captain Freddy Counts Down to School was the easy favorite from this week’s 3 for 3-to-5. It was simple, engaging, and encouraged children to use their imaginations.

Room of Shadows Review (Kids Horror Thriller)

Title: Room of Shadows | Author: Ronald Kidd | Publisher: Albert Whitman & Co | Pub. Date: 2017-8-1 | Pages: 256 | ISBN13: 9780807568057 | Genre: Children’s Horror / Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley for review consideration |


Room of Shadows

Ever since his dad left, David Cray has had anger issues. So after he beats up school bully Jake Bragg, his mom grounds him in their creepy new house. Bored, David discovers a secret room with an old-fashioned desk, a chest, and a carving of a raven. Suddenly he’s having strange dreams about the room and the house, and violence seems to follow him wherever he goes. Who is the Raven who is taking responsibility for these violent pranks? And why do the pranks resemble Poe’s stories? – Goodreads

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Room of Shadows Review

Room of Shadows was an entertaining middle-grade read with a unique premise. Almost everyone knows of Edgar Allen Poe’s works, and many know that his end was both abrupt and mysterious. It was a fittingly foggy end to a writer whose works continue to capture the imagination. Room of Shadows takes what we know of Poe’s death and then speculates a suitably horrific ending to it all.

The main character in Room of Shadows is a young boy in a familiar situation. David has come from a recently broken home where things seemed to have changed overnight. He’s been forced to move when his now one-income family could no longer stay in their house.  Worst of all, there’s no one to really help him deal with everything. It’s a situation that is rife for anger, misunderstandings, and cries for help. And that’s exactly what we think we’re seeing in the beginning.

But even though this is a ‘kids book’, Ronald Kidd doesn’t try to baby the reader. He weaves in enough mystery to even keep adult readers on their toes. The situations he describes that David witnesses are scary to think about (which really surprised me). And I think a lot of readers will be able to identify with at least the realistic parts of David’s situation.  And David’s companion is a plucky girl named Libby who insists on being there with him to help when she can. For David to have someone that actually believes him/believes in him is probably one of the greatest gifts he’s given in this novel.

Overall, Room of Shadows has a lot going for it. It’s a well-written, imaginative tale that will thrill kiddos new to this type of story. It ended up surprising me a little bit because I thought it was going to resolve in an entirely different way. Room of Shadows is a good beginning horror/thriller for younger readers.

The Seventh Sun Review (Science Fiction)

Title: The Seventh Sun | Author: Kent Lester | Publisher: Forge Books | Pub. Date: 2017-4-18 | Pages: 416 | ISBN13: 9780765382221 | Genre; Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley for review consideration


The Seventh Sun

In a breathtaking debut drawing on complex science and recently discovered deep-sea biology, Kent Lester has married fast-paced narrative and cutting-edge, reality-based science to produce an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

A seemingly random murder off the Honduran coast leads scientist Dan Clifford to a massive corporate conspiracy. Illegal, automated, undersea operations have unwittingly awakened a primordial organism that turns host organisms into neurotoxin factories, wreaking havoc with aquatic life and the nearby human population. This maleficence threatens to trigger a worldwide outbreak that could end in human extinction, the Seventh Sun of ancient myth.

When the CDC and the full resources of the U.S. biological threats team fail to uncover the source of the devastation, Dan and a brilliant marine biologist, Rachel Sullivan, must plumb the deeps and face an unimaginable, ancient horror in the murky depths. It’s up to them to stop this terror before a determined multi-national corporation unleashes death on an unsuspecting world.  – Goodreads

Book cover for The Seventh Sun

The Seventh Sun Review

The Seventh Sun was an interesting look at how our thoughtless raping of the environment may very well turn on us. Within pages of starting it, I was telling one of my friends about it because I had this feeling it was going to be an awesome ecological thriller. I told her “It hasn’t gelled yet, but when it does, it’s going to be great!” I was all excited for it to happen, eagerly cataloging characters, facts, etc.

But, unfortunately, The Seventh Sun never quite gelled. The pieces came together fairly well, and the story was competently told. However, it never took that step beyond ‘competently told’. It was informative, interesting, but never engaging.

One of the problems that really held the book back was the main female character, Rachel Sullivan. She was just not well-written. You could feel the whole woe-is-me act coming from a mile away, so when one of the big revelations in the book happened, it had me yawning. Actually, this happened quite a bit and not only with Rachel. It was one of those deals where the characters never got more than mildly interesting because you’d seen them so many times before. A great writer can take a typical character and still make them interesting. Kent Lester isn’t quite there in The Seventh Sun.

Another problem with The Seventh Sun was the dialogue. It was never horrible, but there were several times when I was frustrated with it. It was very methodical and unimaginative. It just felt like Kent Lester was afraid to take chances, and wrote a very ‘safe’ book as a consequence.

Safe books don’t do much for readers. This one fled my mind so quickly after I finished reading it that it was almost a day later before I remembered I hadn’t written up the review for it. The only things that really stand out in the book for me are the things I didn’t like so it’s really hard to put much positive in here. I’m sorry for that.

The Seventh Sun is not a bad book. I didn’t hate it. It just never comes close to being the ‘edge-of-the-seat thriller’ that the blurb promises.

Eerie Elementary: Recess is a Jungle Review (Kids Horror)

Title: Recess is a Jungle | Series: Eerie Elementary #3 | Author: Jack Chabert | Illustrator: Sam Ricks | Publisher: Scholastic, Inc | Pub. Date: 2016-1-5 | Pages: 96 | ISBN13: 9780545873536) | Genre: Kids Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Library


Recess is a Jungle

This series is part of Scholastic’s early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

Sam, Antonio, and Lucy are passing around a soccer ball at recess when something strange happens… They soon find themselves in a fog-filled jungle! The grass and trees have come alive, growing high into the sky. And the friends discover that it’s not just the school itself that’s alive — it’s everything on the school grounds! Sam, Antonio, and Lucy must find their way out of a monstrous hedge maze in time to rescue the rest of the students! – Goodreads

Book cover for Recess is a Jungle

Recess is a Jungle Review

I was so happy once I finished Recess is a Jungle. I had found a new kids horror author to follow! And then in the process of writing the review, I found out that Jack Chabert doesn’t exist. It’s actually the pen name for another kids horror author that I’ve come to respect. Max Brallier. Max Brallier and Sam Ricks make a great team in this early chapter reader from Scholastic. Clear, nice-sized font and illustrations that perfectly tell readers that might be struggling with some words what is going on. The illustrations are included in various ways. Sometimes they are full page illustrations that the text is printed over, sometimes a boxed picture, etc. It never gets visually boring. 

Though this is the third book in the series, it functions perfectly fine as a standalone. Sam is a Hall Monitor for a school that is an evil entity. Orson Eerie found a way to become immortal through becoming the school itself. The school that feeds on kids. (The grown up part of me goes “Yep, someone should have noticed the kids disappearing regularly”, but my inner child goes “See?! SEE?! Schools are evil!”) He, along with his friends Lucy and Atonio, are charged with trying to keep the kids safe while they attend school. Well, in Recess is a Jungle, they find out that there is still a lot to learn about Orson and how far his evil reach extends. 

One of the many nice things about Recess is a Jungle is the story line is actually kind of creepy. That, and Jack/Max doesn’t shy away from putting his trio in possible danger. The three of them use their intelligence and their bravery to find their way through the various obstacles to find a way to save the students once again. Also, even though Sam does save Lucy at one point, the relationship between all three of them feels equal.

Overall, Recess is a Jungle is a fantastic early chapter reader that I whole-heartedly recommend. The author and illustrator both respect children’s abilities to handle a little creepiness. It’s an atmospheric read that is fun for both kids and adults.

I Text Dead People Review (MG Paranormal Horror)

Title: I Text Dead People | Author: Rose Cooper | Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers | Pub. Date: 2015-6-9 | Pages: 240 | ISBN13: 9780385743914 | Genre: Kids Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Library


I Text Dead People

You can’t block the dead.

Annabel Craven hopes she’ll fit in—maybe even be popular—at the Academy. She’s worried she’ll stay friendless and phoneless (it’s true). But when she finds a mysterious phone in the woods near the cemetery, one of her problems is solved . . . and another one is just beginning.

Someone won’t stop texting her. And that someone seems . . . dead. How is Annabel supposed to make friends when her phone keeps blowing up with messages from the afterlife? And what will happen if she doesn’t text back?

Book cover for I Text Dead People

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Spit Mechs 2: Baz Ball Review

Title: Spit Mechs 2: Baz Ball | Series: Spit Mechs #2 | Author: Corbett Buchly |  Pub. Date: 2017-7-1 | Pages: 134 | ISBN13: 9780997500936 | Genre: Kids Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.

Spit Mechs 2: Baz Ball

What’s a group of fourth-graders to do when challenged to a game of alien baz ball by the galactic champions? Put on their alien super suits. That’s what. Enjoy this exciting sequel to the original Spit Mechs. – Goodreads
Book cover for Spit Mechs 2: Baz Ball
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Spit Mechs 2: Baz Ball Review

I have not read Spit Mechs 1, but the author assured me that Spit Mechs 2: Baz Ball was a standalone. This was true. I will say, however, that it was over half the book before I found out why they’re called ‘Spit mechs’. (I should have expected the reason, but it definitely made me go “ew” and laugh a bit.)

This is well-tailored for the intended audience. That audience should be early middle-grade reader that preferably loves sports with a side of sci-fi. Outside of that range, it’s an okay read but not exceptional. The three older kids act very age appropriate. The aliens are very alien in appearance, but act like school bullies. Most of the violence that happens is on the level of kicking someone in the shins, or rolling around in a ball. There’s no destructive weapons, just a good old game of baz ball. (With traps. Lots of traps.)

I liked the simple, anime like illustrations, and the font was large, easy-to-read and the lines were well-spaced apart. It’s definitely easy on the eyes. The way the action unfolds, you could read most of it a chapter a night with your kid, but you may want to read the actual baz ball battle all in one go.

The only thing I didn’t care for was the girl, Curie. I have an 8 year old, and if she had acted at 7 like like Curie acts, I would have gone nuts. The rest of the kids were fine. As for the adults – they have little interaction, but they are okay. If you have read House of Robots by James Patterson, you’ll be very familiar with the basic set-up. The mom is a genius, the dad is an illustrator. Though, I do have to say that having a secret laboratory far underneath your home is considerably better than having to take over the family garage as a lab!

Overall, while it wasn’t my favorite kids book that I’ve read recently, Spit Mechs 2: Baz Ball is competently written and may serve well as a bridge book to get reluctant, athletic-minded readers into reading. Personally, my kid didn’t particular care for it. There’s just not enough of the science fiction element that she enjoys in it.  She sort of zoned out partway through the second chapter, and I continued on alone.

Dog Night at the Story Zoo Review (Kids Graphic Novel)

Title: Dog Night at the Story Zoo | Author: Dan Bar-El (site) | Illustrator: Vicki Nerino (site) | Publisher: Tundra Books | Pub. Date: 2017-7-4 | Pages: 104 | ISBN13: 9781101918388 | Genre: Children’s Graphic Novels | Language: English | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the publisher for review consideration |


Dog Night at the Story Zoo

It’s Open Mic Night at the Story Zoo and the dogs are up to tell their tales in this hilarious graphic novel for young readers.
At the Story Zoo, you get to tell any story you want in front of the live audience, as long as it’s about you. And tonight is dog night. So sit back, relax, and let these dogs tell their tales. We’ve got some hilarious but quite touching stories from dogs of all kinds, including a bulldog who doesn’t want to be judged by his looks; a bloodhound who loses her power of scent and turns to a dog called Surelick Holmes for help; an energetic poodle who saves the day with her yapping; and a stray who takes fetching to a whole new level.

These stories will make you laugh, make you cry and maybe even make you howl at the moon. Whether you’re looking for smart, funny, sweet, sharp, silly or just plain fuzzy, The Story Zoo is going to be your new favorite haunt. – Goodreads

Book cover for Dog Night at the Story Zoo

Dog Night at the Story Zoo Review

Dog Night at the Story Zoo was a family-read affair. All of us plopped down on the couch, the kiddo in the middle, and took turns reading out loud. We were all happy with what we had read.  The three main stories told were very different from each other, and they were interspersed with asides from the audience. There were a few jokes included that will go over younger reader’s heads but are perfect to keep parents interested.

The mini-reviewer said that Dog Night at the Story Zoo was one of her favorite books that she had read in a while. She recommended everybody check it out. She loved the illustrations (more so than she liked some of the stories themselves). Her favorite story was The Storm Before the Calm, which was all about a yappy little poodle explaining why she was nervous all the time. It was the tail (heh-heh) of her finding humans that accepted her for the way she was.  The story of the bloodhound who lost her sense of smell in the final story was a runner-up. She wanted me to make it quite clear that it was kind of a sad story, though.

Dog Night at the Story Zoo was generally a fun, easy to read affair. I personally wasn’t a big fan of the illustrations, this is one case where the kid’s opinion is definitely more important. However, regardless of the fact that it was a fairly good read, none of us have the urge to look up more from this author in the future. If your kids enjoy simple graphic novels and are not quite ready for the superhero stuff, Dog Night at the Story Zoo might be a great choice.

Sunspot Review (Cli-Fi Thriller)

Title: Sunspot | Author: Rob Leininger | Pub. Date: 2014-12-13 | Pages: 281 | ASIN: B00QZKR93A | Genre: Apocalyptic Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: Sexual assault | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited


Sunspot

The sunspot was huge. Nothing like it had ever been seen before—a twenty-billion square mile blot on the surface of the sun, and growing. Dr. Morris Tyler at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff has a theory that might explain what’s happening, and the news isn’t good. Which is why he’s under surveillance after having been told to keep his theory to himself. Keeping his theory under wraps isn’t easy, not when a gorgeous reporter for Parsec magazine, Gail Dionne, has him in her sights, out to get a story. Tyler’s well-ordered world spins out of control when all these forces converge on him, and the world begins to grow colder as the sun . . . goes . . . out. – Goodreads

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