Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Archive for the tag “Action”

The Eye of Midnight by Andrew Brumbach

The Eye of Midnight.jpgSet in 1929, this fast-paced historical adventure is filled with mystery, intrigue and danger. The main characters are Maxine and William, who are cousins, though they barely remember each other. The young pair, both in their early teens, have just arrived on the doorstep of Battersea Manor, somewhere along the Jersey Shore. They’ve been sent to stay with their grandfather, Colonel Horatius Battersea, at his estate for the summer.

Soon after the cousins’ arrival, their grandfather receives a mysterious telegram. He must quickly get to New York City to retrieve an important package. Not willing to leave Maxine and William behind, he brings them along as he prepares to meet with an unknown courier in possession of the parcel. Before he gets to meet with the courier, the Colonel mysteriously vanishes without a trace.

The cousins make a surprise friend in Nura, a bold and daring girl from Turkey, who just so happens to be the courier their grandfather came to meet. The package she was to deliver was a powerful magical artifact, but the item has been stolen by an unknown thief. The three join forces on a daring adventure to find the missing Colonel Battersea and the magical package. They soon find out they aren’t the only ones who are searching.

There are plenty of cliffhangers and twists of fate as the cousins and their friend tangle with gangsters, bootleggers, and a secret order of assassins, some of whom are intent on taking over the world. This book is a great piece of historical fiction with lots of suspense and adventure.

– Mark

Order in Bibz.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the SeaHistory jumps off the page and into life with Ruta Sepetys’ latest novel Salt to the Sea.  While there are many stories told of WWII, this is a lesser known tale brought to life at Sepetys’ skillful hand.

As part of thousands of refugees, we are drawn into the stories of Joana, Emilia, and Florian as they meet on their way to freedom aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff ship.  We are swept along in this action-packed adventure as the unthinkable happens: the Wilhelm Gustloff is attacked by a Russian submarine and sinks.  Joana, Emilia, and Florian each carry their own secrets. They must band together and rely on each other’s strength for sheer survival.

This is a great book to add to your YA collection. It not only sheds light on the worst maritime disaster in ever, it also reveals a generation whose strength and courage is now told primarily through the pages of history as we lose those who fought insurmountable odds to strengthen generations to come.

– Becky

Order in Bibz.

Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

Burning MidnightNo one knows where the colored spheres came from or how they got here. Apparently they arrived years ago, scattered and hidden all over the planet. One thing that we do know is that holding two matching spheres to one’s temple causes an increase in one’s abilities, skills, or appearance. Depending on the color, “burning” a pair of spheres can give the user whiter teeth, increased height, better memory, and other improvements. Some spheres are rare and give greater results, but these are hard to find — and very valuable.

This story takes place on present day Earth, with the main character being seventeen-year-old David “Sully” Sullivan. Sully once found a rare sphere, but was cheated out of his big payday by unscrupulous millionaire businessman, Alex Holliday. Now Sully struggles just to help his mom pay their rent by selling spheres at the flea market.

One day, Sully meets a girl named Hunter, who has a natural ability for finding spheres. The two pair up and start searching for orbs together. After some mishaps, Sully is ready to give up. The two push on and somehow find a color that has never been seen before — a Gold sphere. This could be worth millions, but no one knows what special abilities it may grant…or where a matching sphere may be.

With the aid of two close friends, Sully and Hunter set off on an adventure to find another Gold sphere to complete the set. But Alex Holliday wants the Gold spheres for himself, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get them. Thus begins a race to see who finds the treasured gems first and eventually we discover what the spheres are really for and the dangers involved with using them. This story was action-packed and imaginative with a lot of relatable context.


– Mark

Order in Bibz.

The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs by Cylin Busby

The Nine Lives of Jacob TibbsI love when an author transports a reader to another time and place—which is exactly the case with this tale, told from the perspective of a ship’s cat on the high seas in the 1800s.

Jacob Tibbs, the runt of the litter, is passed over as all of his brothers and sisters find new ship homes.  But luckily he’s inherited hunting skills and weather-sensing abilities from his mother. This makes him an important part of his ship’s crew. We see his sometimes wobbly existence as he navigates the path of growing up — all within the world of a life at sea complete with storms, a shipwreck, and even a mutiny.

The story is well-balanced and while there is no true villain, there is quite a range of characters and emotions. Kids of all ages will love the story of The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs. This will be a great addition to your library for anyone ready to go on an adventure to the high seas.

– Becky

Order in Bibz.

Ninja Timmy by Henrik Tamm

Ninja TimmyThis fantastical tale centers on an orphan cat named Timmy and his ragtag team of animal friends. We’re introduced to Timmy’s best pal Simon, who is a mink, and also to Jasper and Casper – affectionately known as the pig brothers. Together they’ve just finished work on their latest invention, an automated orange peeler that they’re hoping to sell to a local merchant.

As they’re carrying the contraption through the streets of Elyzandrium, they’re approached by a gang of bullies and the invention is stolen. The robbers are wild boars known as the Gribble cousins and they’ve been causing trouble for many of the town’s residents. Luckily, Timmy and his pals get some much needed help from new friends, Alfred, a kindly old toymaker, and Flores, a brave and skilled feline pilot.

Together the group sets out to retrieve the machine, but in their search they unexpectedly uncover an evil plot by a character known as the Blue Rabbit. The Blue Rabbit has been using the Gribbles to kidnap the town’s children so he can steal their laughter and try to make a soul for himself. Timmy and his fellow ninjas will need all of their skills to save the children, defeat the Blue Rabbit, and restore order to the town.

Debut author Henrik Tamm is no stranger to the animal fantasy genre as he’s helped create the worlds of Shrek and the Chronicles of Narnia in his role as a conceptual designer in the film industry. Ninja Timmy was initially published in Tamm’s home country of Sweden and although the prose may be a bit clumsy at times, the abundance of rich, full-color illustrations fill the book with detailed character images, intricate looking machines, and stealthy action sequences.

– Mark
Order in Bibz.

The Peddler’s Road by Matthew Cody

The Peddlers RoadTaking its inspiration from “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”, The Peddler’s Road can be thought of as a modern-day continuation of the original story. Remembering back to the 13th century telling, the Pied Piper made a deal with the townspeople of Hamelin to rid them of their rat infestation. The Piper used his magical flute to lure the rats away from town and into the river where they drowned. The mayor refused to pay as agreed so the Piper left town vowing revenge. He came back months later dressed as a woodsman and, using his magic flute again, lured the town’s children away from their families – never to be heard from again.

So what ever happened to those lost children you ask? Well, wonder no more as this tale may solve the mystery.

Set in current time, we meet a pink-haired girl named Max and her younger brother Carter. They’ve just traveled from New York with their dad who is doing a summer research project in Hamelin, Germany. It’s here that they meet a mysterious man who refers to himself as a ‘pest control professional’. He’s come to their rental home to investigate a rodent problem they’ve been having but Max can’t shake the feeling that the stranger is up to no good.

As it turns out, the peculiar man is the Piper himself, and he’s been subtly playing a tune that’s caused Max and Carter to be cast under his spell. He spirits them away to a place called the Summer Isle where they discover the original children who were lured away from Hamelin hundreds of years ago. The pair sets out on a dangerous quest to discover the secrets of the Piper in hopes of figuring out how to get themselves, and the lost children, back home. This book is the first in a trilogy that will leave you anxiously awaiting the next installment.

– Mark

Order in Bibz.

The Toymaker’s Apprentice by Sherri Smith

The Toymakers Apprentice by Sherri SmithThis tale begins in early-19th-century Nuremberg, where Stefan Drosselmeyer’s beloved mother has just passed away from scarlet fever. In the midst of his grieving, Stefan is about to run away from home.  He recently completed an apprenticeship with his master-toymaker father but wants to spend his journeymen years with someone who is more forward-thinking. His desire is to learn how to work with the new “automatons” that are becoming popular with clockmakers in Europe.

Before Stefan has a chance to leave, he and his father receive a surprise visit from a mysterious cousin who’s been away for many years. It turns out that the visitor, Christian Drosselmeyer, is the master clockmaker for the island kingdom of Boldavia and he is on a perilous quest. He takes on Stefan as his journeyman and also enlists his aid in the search for a mythical nut called the krakatook. They need this nut to save young Princess Pirlipat of Boldavia who’s been turned into a wooden doll after being bitten by the vengeful Mouse Queen.

As they prepare to embark, Stefan’s father is kidnapped by mice and now the quest becomes even more dire. Stefan must rescue his father, cure the princess and save Boldavia from the Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family.  Suspense builds as the chapters alternate between human and rodent perspective in this multilayered, Napoleonic-era retelling of Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”.

– Mark
Order in Bibz.

Voyagers: Project Alpha by D. J. MacHale

Voyagers Project AlphaEarth is running out of fuel in this fast-paced and exciting sci-fi adventure geared towards middle grade readers. The only option left is to travel into deep space where the discovery of an alternative energy source can save the planet. Engineers have created a revolutionary propulsion system that allows a ship to travel to the far reaches of space. But here’s the catch, only children 12 and under can safely withstand the physical strain of the journey due to the time travel element of the propulsion system.

This starts a worldwide search to find the best possible astronauts for the mission. As the field narrows to eight, the children compete in a series of tests to determine the four voyagers who will be chosen for Project Alpha. The competition is headed up by Commander Phillips, who guides the candidates through the series of tests which make up the first half of the book. The competitors are four boys and four girls, all from a variety of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and skills.

Once the four are chosen and trained, they begin their mission aboard the Cloud Leopard spaceship, traveling to planet J-16 to search for the first element of the needed power source. This is where the real adventure begins and failure is not an option. Several interesting sub-plots develop, one of which is what happens to the four contestants not chosen for the mission.

This is the first volume of a six book series, all written by different authors that will be released over the course of a year. The book also contains coded clues at the bottom of certain pages, giving the book another level of interest by taking those clues and going online to crack a cipher that unlocks additional information about the story.

– Mark

Order in Bibz.

Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr

Stone RiderWould you participate in a treacherous race, choosing to leave behind family and friends for the chance to have a better existence? You might if you feel like you’re quickly running out of options and have little to lose.

In a future where Earth can no longer support the population, a fierce competition has developed to give hope to those brave enough to take the risk. The Blackwater Trail: a grueling and brutal race whose winner receives a one way ticket off the desolate ground to Sky-Base. Above the Earth, Sky-Base is the new home, and haven, for a select group of humanity.

Adam Stone did not initially even want to race. He would not abandon his little brother or relinquish his love for Sadie Blood. However a year later, Levi (Sadie’s cruel brother) destroys all Adam’s reasons to stay.

When competing in the Blackwater Trail, most choose to tackle it in groups. Should Adam try to trust again? Will he trust new friends, especially when he has ample reason to rely solely on his own efforts to win the race?

A solid read for those like to enjoy action adventure and dystopian future settings. While we might not be in a position like this today, who knows what the earth will be like in the future. Reading this book made me think about how we can work harder to prevent this future for Earth.

– Ellen

Order in Bibz.

The Six by Mark Alpert

The SixBefore Adam’s muscular dystrophy can kill him, his father, responsible for a revolutionary Artificial Intelligence program whose sentience makes it turn on the entire human race, saves Adam and five other teens by copying their brainwaves into Pioneer robots meant to stop Sigma, the renegade AI bent on destroying mankind. Adam’s task grows increasingly difficult when his best friend and the girl of his dreams are kidnapped.

This is the first young adult novel in a long time that captured my attention and made me truly care about the characters. While the first third of the book feels like it runs a bit long, it helps the reader better connect to Adam and understand his pre-Pioneer life. Adam’s strained relationship with his mother, who refuses to believe any robot would merely be a shallow copy of her son, proves especially poignant.

The action picks up as the Pioneers train to take on Sigma. Adam will do anything to save the people he loves. While there is romance, the mission remains the primary focus throughout. The fact that not everyone survives the battle makes this a realistic read, as do the details about brain mapping. This is young adult hard science fiction at its best. I eagerly await a sequel.

I recommend The Six to fans of Michael Grant and those curious about where our research into Artificial Intelligence might take us.


Order in Bibz.

Post Navigation