Reading is my ESCAPE from Reality!

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” 

 

-- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Walking Dead Vol. 1 - Days Gone Bye

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye - Tony Moore, Robert Kirkman

 

The Walking Dead will be the zombie movie that never ends.

- from the introduction by Robert Kirkman

 

I'm a huge fan of The Walking Dead tv show. It's hard to put into words what this show means to me and how it has played with my emotions over the years. I can't believe I waited this long to read the graphic novel. 

 

I loved everything about this graphic novel and I can't wait to read Volume 2.

Code Name Flood - audiobook

Code Name Flood - Laura Martin

This was a bad idea.

- First sentence

 

I loved the first book so much and the cliffhanger ending got me, so I jumped directly into this when I finished The Ark Plan. The change in narrator was a bit jarring because I was accustomed to the way the characters "spoke" in the first book, but the story is just as good, if not better. 

 

Sky, Shawn, and Todd continue their journey to solve the mysteries of the topside world and the Noah. Why is the military so set on catching them and will Sky be able to complete her dad's mission? Oh and don't forget all the deadly dinosaurs.

 

I thought one character was going to be traitorous, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. (In an adult book, I might have been right.) Any kid who liked The Ark Plan will be thrilled with this sequel. The audio is a delightful way to experience the thrills and adventure of this fantastic story.

 

Recommended to: Grades 4 and up - fans of sci-fi, adventure, dinosaurs, and kids saving the day.

 

 

The Ark Plan - audiobook

The Ark Plan: Edge of Extinction #1 - HarperAudio, Emma Galvin, Laura Martin

 

I needed two minutes.

- first sentence

 

Imagine a world where dinosaurs freely roam the surface and people are forced to live underground. This is Jurassic Park gone wild - dinosaurs were cloned 150 years ago and kept in zoos and on farms. Needless to say, things got out of hand. Sky Mundy lived underground her entire life and now that she found a clue to her father's disappearance, she must venture to the topside world to find answers.

 

The story follows Sky's journey and is filled with thrilling action, life threatening situations, and heroic characters. The plot moves quickly with twists and a cliff-hanger ending. Make sure you have the second book ready for your young reader.

 

The narrator did an excellent job - I highly recommend the audio version. I borrowed it using the Hoopla app through my public library.

 

Recommended to: Grades 4 and up - fans of sci-fi, adventure, strong female characters, and of course, dinosaurs.

The Wild Robot Escapes

The Wild Robot Escapes - Peter Brown

 

Our story begins in a city, with buildings and streets and bridges and parks.

 

- First sentence

 

 

At the end of the first book, Roz is taken away from her island home and brought back to the factory. She is reactivated at Hilltop farm to work for the Shreef family. As much as she enjoys her new home (kids, cows, etc.), Roz misses Brightbill and all her friends on the island. Will she be able to keep her secret? And will she ever make it back to her island home?

 

This is a great follow up and just as quirky and fun as the first one. I read this to my book club at school. The kids liked the first book better, but they did enjoy this one. It took a while to get going, but the end is worth it.

 

Recommended to: 3rd-5th graders who like quirky stories with talking animals

 

Spirit Week Showdown - audiobook

Spirit Week Showdown (Magnificent Mya Tibbs) - Eda Kaban, Crystal Allen, Sisi Aisha Johnson

 

I'm only wearing five braids to school today.

 

- First Sentence

 

Mya is excited for Spirit Week and she is counting down the days with her braids. When she gets to one, it will be time for Spirit Week. But the partner picking doesn't go her way and she ends up with Mean Connie Tate (the school bully) for a partner instead of her best friend Naomi.

 

As Mya would say, "good gravy." And she says that often as she tries to navigate friendships, bullies, and Spirit Week challenges. Mya learns a lot about people and about judging others by what you hear about them. She is a perky little girl and easy to like, even though she doesn't always think things through before she acts. Mya is a strong personality, but she desperately wants to repair her friendship with Naomi - even though Mya didn't really do anything wrong. The flavor of Texas really comes through in the writing. In the audiobook, the narrator does a fantastic job of sounding like a Texas girl with attitude. 

 

I think grownups reading this book will easily recognize the characters for who they are, but kids might be a bit surprised by the ending. The story is engaging and certainly humorous at times. You can't help but laugh about some of the phrases that Mya comes out with. Girls will enjoy this one.

 

Recommended to: 3rd-5th graders who like stories about friendship and triumphing over adversity.

A Terrifying Twist on the zombie genre

Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel - Jonathan Maberry Fall of Night - Jonathan Maberry Dark of Night - Flesh and Fire (Journalstone's Doubledown) - Lucas Mangum, Rachael Lavin, Jonathan Maberry

 

This is how the world ends.

 

- First sentence

 

 

Wow. Reading Dead of Night blew my mind. Imagine being trapped inside your brain, having no control over your actions, but feeling and experiencing everything. Oh, and your body is a zombie, eating people. The people trapped inside zombie bodies just wanted to die and escape the horror. Maberry captured their thoughts and feelings perfectly.

 

A scientist creates a formula that mimics death, with the purpose of punishing serial killers in the worst possible way. He plans to inject the formula during the execution process and bury the body in an unmarked grave. When the killer's consciousness revives, they are unable to move, forced to experience the pain of decomposition, and the torture of being buried partially alive. Of course, things don't go as planned and the world gradually goes to hell.

 

I've been a fan of Jonathan Maberry's work since I read Rot & Ruin several years ago. The events in the Dead of Night series take place years before that, in the same world. He is an amazing writer. I'm looking forward to reading more by him.

 

Overall the series was fantastic. Dead of Night (book 1) was my favorite, followed by Fall of Night (#2), and then Dark of Night (#3). Dark of Night was very short, but I enjoyed seeing characters from other series in that one. 

 

It was funny seeing the characters watching dead people reanimate and not believing their eyes. Or, seeing the zombies taking bites out of people and then watching others trying to reason with them. Zombies are so prevalent in our entertainment that I felt much more knowledgable on the subject than the characters in the books. How did they not realize what was happening and how did it get so out of control? The characters also wrestle with moral issues - is it ethical to destroy a town full of innocent people in order to prevent an apocalypse?

 

Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...?

Red Rising: Sons of Ares - graphic novel (vol. 1-6)

Pierce Brown's Red Rising: Sons of Ares - Pierce Brown

 

I'm a huge fan of the Red Rising series, so I had to read this graphic novel prequel.  It was very well done. The illustrations depict the mood of the series perfectly: the darkness, the bloody fighting scenes, and the emotional torture. I read a couple of reviews that commented on the sketchy style and lack of detail in the illustrations, but I think it fits the mood and story perfectly. The storyline was interesting, fast-paced, and as violent as the books.

 

I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series even more now. 

Curse of the Boggin - audiobook

Curse of the Boggin (The Library Book 1) - D.J. MacHale, Keith Nobbs, Mark Bramhall

 

This is book one in The Library series, about a magical library that helps spirits whose stories have been disrupted by supernatural events.  After Marcus finds the key that opens the door to the library, he is confronted by a creepy old lady who demands that he "Surrender the key." Along with his friends, Lu and Theo, Marcus must fight an ancient enemy and protect the library.

 

I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did an excellent job. The forward gave interesting information about the author and the other books in this series, complete with creepy laugh. The only slightly annoying part was when the narrator read for the librarian who has a Scottish accent. It was a bit distracting.

 

While this book was much shorter than what I'm used to, the length is perfect for young readers. I was a bit disappointed when it ended so soon. Middle grade readers will want more of this scary, thrilling adventure. Some may find they want to leave the lights on after reading, but the story is worth it.

 

This book has also been released as Surrender the Key. There is one more book in the series so far (Black Moon Rising), and book 3, The Oracle of Doom, will be released in October of this year. After reading this book, I am interested in checking out other series by this author including The Pendragon series, and The Morpheus Road series.

 

Has anyone out there read either of those or something else by MacHale?

 

Recommended to: Readers in grades 5-8 who are looking for a scary adventure series.

I Know What You Did Last Summer - audiobook

I Know What You Did Last Summer - Lois Duncan

 

I wasn't a fan of this book at all. I didn't expect much to start with, I was just curious because I've seen the movie. Anyway, the voices the narrator did for certain characters were annoying. The characters themselves were flat and shallow and I didn't like any of them or care if (when) they died. There was very little to the plot and it ended too suddenly.

 

 

A Crack in the Sea by H. M. Bouwman

A Crack in the Sea - H.M. Bouwman

 

This book is a bit complicated. The story is told through the tales of three sets of siblings: Venus & Swimmer escape from a slave ship in 1781 and end up in the Second World, Kinchen & Pip live in the Second World, and Thanh & Sang are trying to escape Vietnam with a few relatives, in the First World in 1976. 

 

When Pip is taken by the Raft King, Kinchen must find and protect her younger brother. At one point, other characters tell the story of Venus and Swimmer and their journey. Then we learn about Pip's experiences on Raftworld. Other characters are sprinkled throughout and we eventually meet Thanh & Sang and follow their adventure.

 

This book combines fables and magic with historical fiction. The Vietnamese family is trying to escape what is left of their country after the war in Vietnam. The original colonists of the Second World are escapees from slave ships who used magic to find a portal through from the First World. Inhabitants of the Second World include a large group of people who live on a group of connected rafts, islanders, sea monsters, people who can talk to sea creatures, and others who can walk through water.

 

I found this book overly long and it had difficulties keeping my attention. The child characters are too similar and I found myself forgetting who was who. The story will appeal to some kids, but I don't think it will be overwhelmingly popular.

 

Recommended to:  Middle School students who enjoy complex tales with multiple characters and a bit of magic.

"I devised a way for these monsters to suffer. Not just during the execution... but afterward. Long, long afterward.

Can you think of a more fitting punishment for a serial murderer than to be awake and aware in a coffin while his body slowly rots?"
Dead of Night - Jonathan Maberry

-Chapter 49

 

Dr. Volker created a way to punish serial killers, but it didn't turn out exactly as he thought it would.

"He could feel everything. Every. Single. Thing.

He existed within.

Disconnected from control but still connected to every single nerve and sensory organ.

God, he begged, let me die.

But his own voice whispered to him, I'm already dead..."
Dead of Night - Jonathan Maberry

 

Chapter 16 --

We realize the true horror of being a "zombie" in this world. Your consciousness still exists and you experience everything your body does, with no control to stop or change what happens.

The Darkest Corners - audiobook

The Darkest Corners - Kara Thomas, Jorjeana Marie

 

At nine years old, Tessa and Callie were the prime witnesses in the trial of a serial killer (the Ohio River Monster). Now a teenager, Tessa returns to her hometown to confront her past and find out the truth.

This book was just okay for me. I didn't care for any of the characters and I didn't enjoy the narration. The main plot was okay, but the end felt contrived and unbelievable. The subplot involving Tessa's mother and sister was unnecessary and distracting.

Bottom line: Take out the subplot, make the characters a bit likable or relatable, and this story would be better. As it is, there are better thrillers to spend your time on.

Overboard (Survivor Diaries) by Terry Lynn Johnson

Survivor Diaries: Overboard! - Terry Lynn Johnson, Jani Orban

 

"Tell me how you survived the whale attack," the reporter said.

- opening lines

 

Could you survive if the whale watching boat you were on capsized and you were left floating in the cold ocean? Travis and Marina are in just such a situation. Luckily, Travis is wearing an immersion suit, and Mariana has survival supplies in her vest (and a lot of knowledge). All they have to do is stay out of the water, find land, and get rescued. Simple, right?

 

So, this is a good book, but the plot is a little thin. Things resolve a bit too easily for me, but I don't think kids will mind. At the end of the book, there is a section with "U.S. Coast Guard-Approved Cold Water Survival Tips" which kids will probably find very cool and informative.

 

It's about 100 pages, easy to read and about survival, kids will love it.

 

Recommended to: Grades 3-5 (and some second graders), fans of the I Survived series, adventure fans, reluctant readers

The Eureka Key by Sarah L. Thomson

The Eureka Key - Sarah L. Thomson

 

Sam's eyes were on the clock: 9:54.

- opening line

In this series, Sam and Martina use their brains and skills to solve puzzles that will help find an invention that could save or destroy our nation. After winning a contest, they are on a trip across the country, but it quickly turns into something far more important and dangerous. The founding fathers left clues to seven "keys" that will unlock Benjamin Franklin's greatest invention, but, sinister forces are also searching for the keys. Sam and Martina get along like oil and water, but they must learn to work together to solve the difficult puzzles and avoid booby traps to find the keys first.

 

In this book (the first in the series), Sam and Martina are looking for Ben Franklin's key. Throughout the book, we learn different facts about Franklin (thanks to Martina's vast knowledge). Most of the story takes place underground as the kids evade the bad guys and try to survive the dangerous puzzles/traps. The keys are vitally important and failing to solve the puzzles could lead to death. Sam and Martina didn't sign up for this, but they are determined to find the keys and thwart the bad guys.

 

This is a fun adventure/mystery story. Kids who enjoy solving puzzles or have an interest in history will love this book. There are three books in the series so far, but I'm assuming there will eventually be seven (for the seven keys). The keys are not all literal keys like Ben Franklin's key - each one relates to the founding father who hid it. The second book to Thomas Jefferson's Eagle's Quill, and the third to Alexander Hamilton's Ring of Honor.

 

Recommended to: Ages 9-13, fans of history and adventure stories.

The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst

The Girl Who Could Not Dream - Sarah Beth Durst, Soneela Nankani

 

The dreamer controls the dream.

 

Imagine having a friendly monster as your best friend and protector. Sophie's parents own a dream shop in the basement of their bookstore where they secretly sell liquid dreams. Sophie's best (and only) friend is a cupcake loving monster named Monster, who she once pulled out of a dream. Monster is a bit sarcastic and a lot over protective, but he would do anything for Sophie. Then, Mr Nightmare arrives, the shop is robbed, and Sophie's parents go missing. With the help of Monster, some new friends, and some fierce, but friendly creatures, Sophie just might be able to find and save her parents.

 

This is an enchanting and quirky story that reminds us it's okay to be different. And our most courageous friends may look all fluffy and cute on the outside, but they have fierce hearts. 

 

I listened to the audio and the narrator was excellent. I loved the voice she used for Monster. I highly recommend the book and the audio. 

 

Recommended to: Ages 9-13, fans of fantasy and adventure stories. 

Currently reading

Lemons
Melissa Savage
The Gift: The gripping psychological thriller everyone is talking about
Louise Jensen

Reading is my Escape's Read 2018 book montage

Unwind
The Man in the Iron Mask
Truly Madly Guilty
The Reptile Room
The Wide Window
UnWholly
The Miserable Mill
The Austere Academy
UnSouled
The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend
The Ersatz Elevator
The Vile Village
The Hostile Hospital
UnDivided
The Nerdy Dozen
The Carnivorous Carnival
The Iron Giant
Awkward
Brave
The Slippery Slope


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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
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