Category Archives: YA

REVIEW: Partials by Dan Wells

Partials by Dan Wells

5 stars!!! This YA is the first in a trilogy that has been out for a while. I’m late getting started on it but WOW, am I glad I read it!

Here’s the back story on how this happened: my son picked this up at the library last week. Since they take longer than I do to choose books, my designated role is to sit on the very comfy chairs (!) and read while they look around. He handed me this one and instead of dropping it into our ‘library book carrier’, I opened it and read the first page …then I read the first chapter… by the time they were ready to check out their books, I was well into chapter three!

The plot grabbed me right from the start. Kira is 16 years old and lives on Long island in what seems to be the future about 2076 or so. This is eleven years after genetically modified superhuman/robot things called Partials, that were created by a genetics lab went off the rails and turned against humanity while the RM virus they carry killed just about everybody else that wasn’t immune.

The final indignity of the RM virus is that human babies are not immune so they die. every.baby.every. time So the 40,000 or so humans on Long Island are all that’s ever going to be on Earth. When they all die, humanity dies as well.

The way the society deals with this is mandatory pregnancy laws for females of a certain age (which is getting lower!) in hopes of getting a baby with immunity so they can find a cure for RM and save the human race.

Are you hooked so far? Wait, because it gets even better! Remember the Partials? There are millions of them but they have retreated and not been seen for eleven years. Where they went, what they are doing, no one knows but the humans live in fear they will return to finish wiping them out!

In the meantime, Kira who is trained as a medic which is sort of like our doctors, finds out her best friend is pregnant. The baby is doomed, of course, but Kira decides (like every good teenage girl in a YA dystopian book!) that it is up to her to be the one to find a cure for RM and save the world. How do the Partials figure into her quest and what secrets will Kira discover about herself and humanity?  Lots of good stuff happens as we go along for the ride and find out!!

I don’t think I’m explaining the book very well because I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers. Suffice it to say, if someone had said to me ‘hey, read this book’ I would have probably not thought it was my type of a read. I would have been WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!! This book was really good, oh, there were a couple of places it dragged with too much explanation/not enough action and some quick learning/acceptance of things that was REALLY quick but, hey, it’s a story. The characters were great and the plot blew my mind!!

If I can’t convince you to read this book any other way, let me tell you that I have the next 2 on hold at the library already!!

First Chapter Friday

First Chapter Friday!!! I love this weekly post-I get to read the first chapter of various books, and give you my thoughts. I’ve found two great books that your kids “OTTER” be reading!!  Inspirational books for kids and even a West Virginia connection-that’s a bonus!!

Philip and the Thief by John Paulits

Philip has been around for a while-this is the 6th book in a series of 12!  Philip is sort of an ‘everykid’ that has family, friends and school going on with the usual interactions and dramas.  The plot of this book is that Philip uses his skills as Philip the Greatness to become a detective and solve mysteries around the house and neighborhood.  When money comes up missing at school, and a classmate is thrown, Philip solves the case and saves the day.  

Paulits really knows his craft!  He writes very well and the characters speak & act very naturally. This series isn’t promoted as being Christian, but this one is ‘clean’ and reads as a very inspirational book-use your skills, help others and love your family.  I enjoyed the first chapter and will be encouraging my boys to read the entire series.

 

 

 

The Adventures of Shy Spy Time Traveler by Deborah L. Gladwell

 

I was so excited to find out the author of this book, Deborah L. Gladwell, lives in my home state of West Virginia!  I’m in Missouri now but I still LOVE to promote West Virginians doing all the wonderful things they do.  I have to say that Deborah really embodies the spirit of a Mountaineer with excellent writing and a positive Christian message for kids.

Shy the dog accidentally stows away on a time machine and goes back to the time of Moses!!  You can’t resist that kind of awesomeness!!  Gladwell has a very well written, well plotted book that surprised me.

I wasn’t expecting a Christian book for kids to be such a good story.  The book reminds me of the Magic Treehouse books because of the total immersion into a historical subject.  The Christian message and scriptures enhance the book and take Shy to a whole ‘nother level.  I was so engaged in the plot and what was going to happen next, I couldn’t believe I had to stop at one chapter!

Most definitely pick up these “good, clean” books for your kiddos.  There is enough negative out there-let’s do some positive for a change!!  Have a great reading weekend-Cozy Mystery Monday will be here before you know it!!

First Chapter Friday

Need some ideas for books for your 8-12 year old? You’re in the right place as I’ve read the first chapter in three YA/middle-grade books this week:

 

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

My first book up for First Chapter Friday is The Iron Trial. It was just released on the 9th and I am already hearing so many good things about this book. You know these authors: Holly Black is The Spiderwick Chronicles and the super creepy Doll Bones and Cassandra Clare is of course The Mortal Instruments books. You just know any book they collaborate on will be excellent. The plot starts out like every other magic/fantasy/YA book out there: kids must pass the Iron Trial to be admitted to the Magisterium to study magic. Ho hum so far, right? WRONGO, me hearty (sorry, Talk Like a Pirate Day just got me!) The twist to this book is that Callum Hunt wants to FAIL the Iron Trial, so of course he passes and must enter the Magisterium.  Despite some comparisons to Harry Potter in the reviews, I thought the first chapter was pretty good and different enough to rate a full book read.

Spirit Animals #4 Fire and Ice by Shannon Hale

The Spirit Animals series has been on my radar for a while since Brandon Mull and Garth Nix wrote books in the series.  This is book 4 of the series and in this one, the four kids (Greencloaks) travel to the far, frozen North to try to stop “The Conquerors” using their “spirit animal” powers.

I didn’t finish the first chapter-VERY bloody/violent killing in the first two pages. Definitely NOT for the age 8-12 range that is the target market. NO NO NO. I’m not sure what Shannon Hale was trying to accomplish in using this to set up the plot but it is an epic fail for me.  I’ve read the reviews and I’m seeing lots of comments about the humor and character interaction later in the book but I just can’t get past chapter one–this series goes to our do NOT read pile.

 

Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

OH!! You know how you get that tingly feeling when you read a really good book and you don’t want to put it down? Nightmares is THAT book!! Now this is a book for the 8-12 crowd-funny, scary and you will want to be Charlie’s friend as he tries to figure out what is going on in his new home.

His father has married a woman Charlie is sure is a real witch and they have moved to her purple mansion that may or may not be haunted. There is a touch of sadness when you read that Charlie can see his old house from his new bedroom window 😦 What a great plot point, that one sentence gives the reader more about Charlie than you could tell in 20 paragraphs. Authors Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have done a fantastic job with the writing. Top of the to be read pile for this one.

One clunker this week but two your kids definitely “Otter” be reading!!

THROWBACK THURSDAY

Ah, Throwback Thursday is here again.  Join me on a trip to the (far distant) past of my childhood and some favorite books I read over & over and think you should, too:

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.

There are almost 150 books in this series, from the original books back in the 1920’s through various authors into 2014.  The Alden children are orphans: Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny.  They live for a time in a railroad boxcar, hence the series title.  They and their dog, Watch (love this!) have various adventures, solve some very sweet little mysteries, meet lovely people and find their way to their grandfather, James Alden.  I loved these books as a child and they stand the test of time very well. Wonderful to read to your little ones or to re-read for yourself!

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol

I think every fan of Scooby-Doo read these books first.  Encyclopedia Brown was a smart kid who opened a detective agency in his garage and offered to solve mystery cases for “25 cents per day, plus expenses”, his slogan was “No case too small”!  His helper is his friend Sally.  The nemesis is Bugs Meany and his gang the Tigers.  Lots of fun mysteries, nothing violent or bloody-mostly scams and con artist stuff.  Highly recommended.

 

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

Would any list of favorite series be complete without Nancy?!  There are probably over 200 books in various Nancy Drew series’:  from “The Secret of the Old Clock” in 1930 to the latest incarnation of Nancy Drew Papercutz graphic novels.  Nancy always stumbles into some kind of a puzzling mystery to solve.  Her friends Bess & George are happy to come along for the ride as does hunka hunka perfect boyfriend Ned.  Some of the mysteries were ahead of their time in dealing with intense situations like putting the girls in very dangerous situations …gasp… but everything is always wrapped up with no loose ends.  The companion series of The Hardy Boys is also consistently good over the years.  I think guys & gals would enjoy both series.

 

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Oh, how I loved this series!  Dear Meg and Charles Wallace and of course Fortinbras the dog.  Mrs. Whatsit is the eccentric neighbor that knows more than she tells about Meg’s father, a very famous physicist who mysteriously disappears.  A rescue mission is begun that leads the children down some dark parts of the universe in a battle between good and evil.   Very heavy stuff for the 1960’s!  There are five books in the series and while they do work as stand-alones, reading them in order gives the best full immersion reading experience.

So, my Throwback Thursday list of favorites from my childhood.  What did you read growing up? Anything you still read from time to time?  Tomorrow is Funday Friday-see you then!!

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