Posts tagged ‘teens’

DANGERS AND DRAGONS PRINCESS MADELINE BLOG TOUR

Princess Madeline and the Dragon: Book Three

Written by Kirstin Pulioff

Illustrated by Sara Twitty and edited by Jeremy Sandler

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This is the third book in a trilogy based on the adventures of Princess Madeline. While I do heartily recommend that you read all three, a reader will find any of the three a satisfying fantasy adventure aimed at tweens and teens but no less enjoyable for adults.

Pulioff expertly guides the reader into this story by setting the stage in the Prologue in which we learn the kingdom of Soron is again under attack. Long ago, Lord Hawthorne followed out orders to attack the dragons in the surrounding forests ushering in a battle between dragons and humans. The wizard, Elias, tells Princess Madeline that all lived in peace until humans tried to steal the magic in the dragon’s eggs and the red dragon was captured. Now the kingdom is threatened by the wrath of the green dragon. When King Theodore is burned by the dragon and lies near death, the fate of the kingdom falls into the hands of Princess Madeline and her twin brother, Braden.

As they makes plans for the kingdom to survive, two major events will take place the next day: the coronation of Braden as king, and the marriage of Madeline to her knight, Daniel. The wizard Elias will accompany Madeline, Daniel and their friends as well as the villagers through the system of underground tunnels to safety in a land to the north near the Dragon’s Gate. At the same time the new king prepares for the battle with his knights in an attempt to rid the land of the dragon threat.

While treking through the dark tunnels, Elias reveals the prophecy of Queen Eleanor, who died while protecting Braden and Madeline. No one has yet deciphered the meaning of “He who recovers the orbs holds the line of the future.” When Madeline finds the missing dragon eggs and holds one up that illuminates the darkness, she realizes that she might have found the secret. She rushes to find Braden, who is already engaged in mortal combat; he is determined to destroy the eggs and the dragon.

Madeline and Braden both have strong personalities that have been developing throughout the series, but their philosophies and ensuing actions are at opposite ends. Whoever succeeds in persuading the other on how to proceed forward will determine the future of the Soron Kingdom and whether, or if, that kingdom will survive. The culmination of this inward struggle produces the most action of the series in this third volume. Pulioff has again succeeded in carefully delineating her characters. At the same time she produces more than enough adventure, action, fantasy and mystery for tweens and teens to enjoy. They may not even realize they are learning valuable life lessons and character development!

IMPORTANT NOTE; The second book in this series, The Battle for Princess Madeline is currently available FREE on AMAZON until Jan. 24, 2014. http://motherdaughterbookreviews.us3.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=5bbf14b751f589ebf5ff0e6ba&id=ebd900fd06&e=f4533b3c18

You can read my review of the first book in this series, The Escape of Princess Madeline here https://bamauthor.me/2013/08/14/princess-in-peril

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STRANGE BUT EFFECTIVE

Mr. Planemaker’s Flying Machine

Written by Shelagh Watkins

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When I first started reading this book, I was unsure of what to expect. At the beginning of the story we meet what seems to be an ordinary family living in Pierton, England. Soon the reader learns that the father, Mr. Planemaker is seriously ill. The successful builder becomes depressed at his forced early retirement and seeks a hobby, which turns out to be making a model airplane. Some very strange things happen when he tries to teach himself how to research the internet to lay out his plans. He has mystifying dreams that involve colleagues seeking to entice him to enter a dark and grey house which then miraculously disappears. A kitten suddenly materializes in his car and strange talking characters like A. Leon Spaceman appear on the computer. Is he going crazy?

On the day his model airplane kit arrives, Mr. Planemaker passes away. Here I feared the story was going down hill. Part Two takes a whole new turn. Now the children assume center stage. Emmelisa and Dell Planemaker are now nine and twelve struggling to overcome difficulties with peers and adjusting to a life without their father. Emmelisa is being bullied at school because she refuses to join the gang led by Mayja Troublemaker. Her brother has moved to middle school and no longer can protect her. She keeps all this to herself and as a diversion decides to pass time by using her father’s old computer now hidden in the attic. To her surprise, she learns that her father has a whole set of plans and hidden secrets within it. Their mysterious family cat named Cosmos helps the children to unlock them. They discover its secrets by stepping into the computer itself and taking a real tour of the inside of a computer in nanosecond time. While inside the computer, the children discover their father has left them a mission to follow his “trail of light.”

Here is the third part of the story in which the reader is taken on a space flight on their father’s original model plane kit which the CPU staff has put together for them. They train there as astronauts, but their space flight will be controlled by Astrow Naught and Mission OnControl. The children learn a lot about the space station while they whiz pass all the planets and observe comet behavior. There are lots of surprises on the journey leaving in doubt their ability to find their father’s trail and make a successful return journey home before their mother notices that they are missing.

This book is a strange mixture of elements, coming of age, bullying, grief issues, computer knowledge, metaphysics and realism. I can’t explain why, but ultimately it works. The author successfully grips the reader into being a willing captive to the personalities of the characters and the strange twists and turns of the story line. Critics might say that it is rambling; yet valid issues are addressed and a great deal of information is relayed. Tweens and teens interested in any of these issues will find it to be a satisfying read. The quirkiness of the novel kept me glued to it because I could not figure out what would happen next. My bottom line is this book is really different; give it a look.

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THE GENUINE ARTICLE

Beauty and the Beast

Written by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont and Marie-Michelle Joy

Illustrated by Walter Crane

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This rendition of the classic fairy tale is based on the original eighteenth century version. No Disney elements are found here. This original version was written and distributed widely in France to protest the marriage system of the day in which women had no right to choose or refuse a mate. The original version was a full length novel written for adults, which was later shortened.

At the beginning of the tale, the reader meets a wealthy merchant who has six sons and six daughters. They live sumptuously and prosperously. Suddenly, disaster strikes. The merchant loses his home and possessions in a fire, and pirates sack his shipping business. The distraught family retreats to a poor life in a forest cottage, which is their only remaining possession. All his daughters complain with the exception of the youngest named Beauty who is determined to make their meager life a happy one. Then one day she asks her father for a favor. She longs to see one beautiful rose. The merchant sets off to find one and his journey takes him to a mysterious castle. He is left alone but treated lavishly. Suddenly an ugly beast appears. He promises to let the traveler return home if he will return with one of his daughters to live with him in the castle. The merchant reluctantly agrees.

Beauty feels responsible for her father’s plight and volunteers to return with him to the castle of the Beast where they find unexpected surprises and treasures. When it comes time for the merchant to return home, both he and his daughter are distraught. Strange dreams bring about strange occurrences. What will happen to Beauty and the Beast? Remember, I told you that this is not a classic Disney fairytale.

The illustrations are the original nineteenth century drawings by Walter Crane. They are extraordinarily detailed and magnificently colored. The reader will think herself transported to a museum. They add to the flavor of an authentic French period piece. As an adult, I enjoyed this rendition of the classic tale. I believe that tweens and teens will find this “grown-up” rendition of Beauty and the Beast a most appealing one. Available in kindle and paperback versions.

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SEBELLA’S SOJURN

The Magical World Of Sebella (The Magic Castle)

Written by Thea Berg

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This book is the author’s first short novel. The plot moves along quickly with well developed characters and lots of twists and turns. Vocabulary in the book is not too difficult allowing most beginning chapter readers to access it without too much difficulty. The author provides a comprehensive list of questions which may be used as a guide to developing a discussion and comprehension of the tale. Sebella is a nine year old witch who is part of a “unique” family living in Skullvilla. On this particular rainy day, she is bored so she begs her mother to allow her to see who has just moved across the street. Her mother does not want to go out and get her hair wet, but Sebella manages to use her powers to suddenly end the rain and clear things up quickly. The neighbor turns out to be the witch Eloise, a former friend of her mother.

Sebella, the new neighbor’s daughter, Kendall, Sebella’s cousin, Prudence, and Sebella’s, brother, Drac are now playing a board game in the living room. Suddenly, Prudence drops a gargoyle statue and its red laser eyes bore a deep crack in the fireplace wall. So the adventure begins! The children crawl into the tunnel which opens to a castle. Dimitrius, the Lord of the Castle, informs them they must get rid of the Shadows, slay the dragons and eliminate the Villainous Mentalist (who used to own Sebella’s house). Certainly a tall order! Though it seems an insurmountable task, the children are ready and willing to attempt it. Their journey forces them to explore many rooms of the castle. Turns out they receive some unexpected help along the way. Will they succeed in all three tasks and find a way to escape and find their way home? If they are successful, will their lives be changed forever?

A delightful and exciting read for tweens and teens and/or adults. Looking forward to reading more adventures from this new and talented author.

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TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

Ta Ta for Now! (Stories about Melissa)

Written by Bethany Lopez

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This is a fast paced well written story about a fourteen year old girl named Melissa, her family, and the beginning of her freshman year at Dearborn High School. The protagonist writes in a journal format spilling out her hopes, fears and emotions.

Even as an adult reader, I found myself laughing, crying and sympathizing with Melissa. The oldest child of four, Melissa describes her brothers and sisters: Megan, the seventh grader who has no pride in her appearance, Mikey, the nine year old pesky brother, and Monica, the still adorable five year old baby sister. Her parents take their responsibilities seriously and do their best to guide her.

In the beginning of the story, Melissa has just begun to make journal entries in the book Megan has bought for her birthday. Melissa is apprehensive about the first day of high school, especially because her mother is also a teacher at the school! Her life is a roller coaster. Melissa’s best friend Jess has turned into a goth and won’t even talk to her. Melissa is desperately trying to get Brian, a star athlete swimmer and football player, to pay attention to her. A new girl named Layla appears eager to befriend her. Melissa’s entries are filled with the ups and downs of a teenager’s life. There are boy troubles, family quarrels, parental disputes and problems at school.

Many of the lessons learned are not acquired without grief or hardship, but we are introduced to a young lady who is doing her best to find out who she is and how she can fit it without losing her own identity. Bethany Lopez does a good job of delineating the joys and fears as well as the trials and tribulations of a fourteen year old high school freshman. Story action moves along quickly and the sub plots involving supporting characters are seamlessly interwoven. The reader empathizes with Melissa while the supporting cast of characters alternate in lifting her up and pulling her down. Length of the story (about 150 pages) is perfect for a young teen reader. Takes you back to a time that many adult readers would like to forget.

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MIND GAMES

A Diamond in my Pocket: Book One of The Unaltered Series

Written by Lorena Angell

 

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Calli Courtnea is leading a fairly ordinary teen life in Ohio when one day she is whisked off to a new world that is anything but ordinary. She has always been an independent spirit, but Calli is somewhat a bright loner unwilling to give in to peer pressure. Recently, she has joined the school track team. On this day, she has broken both the world and the school record in the 100 meter race. Strange thing about all of  this; Calli has no idea how this happened! A beautiful woman named Mrs. Winter convinces Calli and her parents that she should attend a training camp for Olympic hopefuls in Montana. So Calli is transported there immediately.

What an eerie place she finds! Most of the athletes are younger than her sixteen years. They do not welcome her. She is ignored and taunted by them as a “muck,” which means slow runner. When Mrs. Winter calls her into her office, things get even worse. Calli is informed that she has been summoned here not to train for the Olympics, but because she has been granted special powers by cosmic rays that travel through the universe and altered her at birth. The children who are Runners have been chosen to transmit important communications. There are two other groups that have been given special powers, the Healers and the Seers.  Not much time passes before Calli finds out that she has been assigned with two other teams of Runners to rescue three of their own members who have been held hostage by the Shadow Demons.  These powerful spirits lurk outside in the night and possess the ability to rip you to death instantly. Why does Mr. Bates choose her to hold the Diamond in her pocket that will be the ransom to secure the hostages? Calli is mystified.

Because she is the slowest runner, Calli needs to be assisted by Justin or Chris who are much quicker than she. Calli has been developing a crush on Chris who, at first, appears to be much older and wiser than the others. Once on the journey Calli finds out that her powers are growing exponentially. She also  possesses the power of a Healer and like the Seers is able to peer into the future and know its outcome. Calli becomes confused and frightened as she is able to scare off her enemies and safeguard her fellow teammates. She will learn that when she uses her powers; she must respect the boundaries of nature and that she cannot impose her will upon others.

Will Calli and the Runners be successful in rescuing their friends and foiling the plans of the Shadow Demons? Does Calli succeed in learning how to use her powers in this strange new world or will she be able to control them and return to her world on earth? Teens will identify with themselves and their peers in the challenges that these well developed characters must face. The dialogue is well written with many twists and turns in the plot that definitely hold the reader’s interest. Good beginning to a new series.

COMEDY OF ERRORS

F.U.D.G.E.

By Colin Machiavelli (D.A. Boal)

F.U.D.G.E.This book is based on the experiences of a sixteen year old boy who is just about to enter his final year of high school. It is written in first person in the form of a stream of consciousness or personal diary, At the beginning, Pete Armistad, who is often called Petestar, is feeling nervous and anxious about the first day of the new school year. He is worried about grades, teachers and most of all, the fact that he has never had a date or even kissed a girl. The day does not start out well as some eighth grade boys put gum on his seat and he spends the whole day wondering why everyone is snickering at him. Chloe is the girl he currently has a crush on, and his friend Eric is moving in on her. The author uses lots of funny incidents to show the trials and tribulations of the boys and girls in his school. Pete laments, “For a teenage boy to remain happy for more than ten minutes is usually an achievement.”

Pete’s family is also dysfunctional. He tells us that his mother uses cruelty to be kind to him. She is often despondent and has radical mood swings. Pete’s father advises him to ignore his mom when she gets mad because otherwise she will throw and break everything in the house. Most of the time his parents ignore him. Pete points out that they never even bothered to talk to him about sex. Instead they handed him a book. He finally finishes the first week of school when his parents inform him they have decided to take a camping trip for the weekend. Of course he does not want to go. Their car breaks down and they have to take a bus the rest of the way to the campground. He insults an old man and the whole family gets kicked off the bus. The family is forced to walk the rest of the way to the campground. The nightmare continues as he takes a shower in the girl’s shower room and leaves his clothes there by mistake. I think you see where this is going.

There are a few incongruities in the story. The author has teachers bantering back and forth with him and other students in the classroom. Pete’s mother creates a false identity on face book so she can spy on him, and then actually makes a bet that he will not be able to find a date for the prom!  Pete is forced to ask Sylvia, the ugliest girl in the school, to the prom and she winds up beating him up. Yet, the book is still funny; teen boys and girls alike will find many situations with which they can identify. The characters are well defined and the story line is clever. Even though I am far removed from my teen years and the times have definitely changed, I found lots of incidents that brought back memories. What does the title F.U.D.G.E. mean? You’ll have to read the book to the end to find out.

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