Life's hard.

It's even harder when you're stupid.

John Wayne

Monday, April 27, 2015

Billy Coatbutton and the Wheel of Destiny by Michael James Ploof ★★★☆☆

Billy Coatbutton and the Wheel of Destiny (The Sock Gnome Chronicles, #1)A good, quick read for kids.
Fiction – Juvenile - Fantasy
48 pages
Age level: 9-13 Grade level: 4-8
Publication Date: 2012
The Sock Gnome Chronicles #1

Billy Coatbutton, a Sock Gnome, must pass his first test of mastery to become a hunter like his dad. With one spin of the Wheel of Destiny Billy is sent on the adventure of his life, challenging him in unexpected ways.
This book is written in the grand tradition of the Borrowers complete with its own mythology and cute adventure story. The narrator directly addresses the reader and the writing and vocabulary are both very appropriate for the age level. I love the overall message about doing right for its own sake and looking after the overall good and not just personal selfish ambition. Also this is a quick read and great for kids with short attention spans who might otherwise struggle to read longer books.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Time Riders by Alex Scarrow ★★★★☆

A great addition to the time travel genre!
Fiction – YA- Sci-Fi
425 pages
Age Range: 12 - 17 years
Grade Level: 7 – 12
Publication Date: 2010

TimeRiders (TimeRiders, #1)Liam, Maddy and Sal were all rescued from death and disaster to work for a secret agency called Time Riders.  Their purpose is to fix and mitigate the consequences of others playing with time.   But when someone goes into the past in order to fix their future and things start going wrong can these newbies save the human race from total annihilation?

This book starts with a bang and I quickly knew it was going to be an exciting adventure.  The story was very well executed and creative in itself, but add to that how much potential the premise holds the skies the limit(by the way there are several more Time Rider books on the market currently).  The storytelling characters were engaging and broad enough to be interesting while leaving plenty of room for growth.  Mr. Scarrow used the time travel in a very imaginative way and created a fully thought out set of rules and procedures pertaining to it allowing the concept of the books and need for time riders to be legitimized. I also like Mr. Scarrow’s use of suspense with just enough grit to increase the stakes, but not so much as to make it off putting.

Now on the other side of thing the short chapters kind of bugged me.  It made the story telling really jumpy and jarring, but that was probably the point, so in this case it is a matter of preference.  Also there were a couple of places where Mr. Scarrow tried a bit too hard to make this YA, creating awkwardness that did not characterize a majority of the novel.  Okay and now my last major complaint.  One thing that really grated on my nerves was the frequent use of the Lord’s name in vain.  It didn’t add anything to the story or characters and I found it completely unnecessary and rather offensive.