Book Review of Twisted Prey by John Sandford

Twisted Prey by John Sandford

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Book Review of Twisted Prey by John Sandford

This book just showed up in my mailbox one day. Fun, right? I love surprise bookmail! This may not be my usual genre, but I like to switch things up sometimes. When I was younger I read all the John Grisham and Tom Clancy books. I thoroughly enjoyed them, and this book is the same genre. Check out my book review of Twisted Prey by John Sandford to find out if I liked it!

Blurb:

“Lucas Davenport confronts an old nemesis, now a U.S. senator and more powerful than ever, in the thrilling new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling Prey series.

Lucas Davenport has crossed paths with her before.

A rich psychopath, Taryn Grant had run successfully for the U.S. Senate, where Lucas had predicted she’d fit right in. He’d also been convinced that she was responsible for three murders, though he’d never been able to prove it. Once a psychopath has gotten that kind of rush, though, she often needs another fix, so he knew he might be seeing her again.

He’s right. A federal marshal now, with a very wide scope of investigation, he’s heard rumors that Grant has found her seat on the Senate Intelligence Committee—and the contacts she’s made from it—to be very…useful. Pinning those rumors down, however, is likely to be just as difficult as ever, and considerably more dangerous.

But they have unfinished business, he and Grant. It’s time to put an end to it, one way or another.”

My Book Review:

Lucas Davenport must work really hard because there are a bunch of books about him. I liked him as a character. He keeps things real and doesn’t completely overreact to minor situations. Lucas thinks things through, usually, before acting. I love how much he loves his wife. If I had been his wife in this book I think I would have made him stay with me longer, but she’s probably used to it. I like that he’s a strong, capable guy, yet he also has more of a sensitive side.

There were a lot of characters in this book. I hate to admit that I couldn’t keep all of them straight. Between the different government agencies and organizations, I kept forgetting who was who. For the more important characters, though, like Lucas, Bob, and Rae, I didn’t have a problem. Overall, I thought the character development was well done. It’s a bit creepy getting into the minds of psychopaths. Yes, plural. There is more than one in this book.

The plot seemed plausible, most of the time. Just like some of the current movies, they have to throw in a few things to make the hero seem a bit more powerful than he really is. I’m fine with it. Sometimes it makes me roll my eyes and laugh a little, but it’s fine. I get it. It’s a little scary to think that someone would really do something like this in order to gain power.

There’s a lot of action in this book. Murders, car crashes, disguised assassins shooting up hotel rooms, muggings, secret plots, and hidden files are just a few. Be prepared for quite a ride! It made me very happy for my nice, quiet life. Haha! Not that four kids make for a quiet life, but that we aren’t involved in anything like this. Ever. Thank goodness!

Overall, I liked the story. I liked the complexity of it, and I liked trying to figure it all out. For me personally, there was way too much profanity. I lost track of how many “f” words there are. Maybe it was to try and develop the characters, but I think the same purpose could be achieved in a different way. I also figured out that I don’t like watching people die like that. It was quite gruesome.

Content Rating RRating: R (There’s a lot of profanity, including dozens of “f” words. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is a lot of violence. Included are multiple murders, some of which are quite detailed and gruesome.  There is also a mugging, car crashes, and gun violence.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5 (I lowered my rating to 3 because of all the profanity.)

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here:

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

 

Book Review of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

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Book Review of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Have you seen the movie? Then you need to read the book! It’s better, of course! Dan Brown is so good at creating this world where you get caught up in the suspense and the mystery. He masterfully connects the mysterious to the symbolic, and then adds just enough reality to make you really wonder. Is this true? If you’re looking for a fast, entertaining, suspenseful read, then this is the book for you. I hope you enjoy my book review of The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

Blurb:

“An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci.

A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe.

An astonishing truth concealed for centuries…unveiled at last.

As millions of readers around the globe have already discovered, The Da Vinci Code is a reading experience unlike any other. Simultaneously lightning-paced, intelligent, and intricately layered with remarkable research and detail, Dan Brown’s novel is a thrilling masterpiece—from its opening pages to its stunning conclusion.”

My Book Review:

This is an oldie but goodie. If you can believe it, this is one of the first books I reviewed, way back in April of 2009! My reviews looked very different back then, so I’m updating it today in hopes of making it more readable and helpful. I really enjoyed this book. If you can remember when it came out, there were lots of History Channel documentaries about the Knights of the Templar and the theory behind this book.  I have to admit that I was enthralled. Is any of it true? Probably not, but it makes for a very engaging story!

This is a definite thriller that keeps you reading. The curator of the Louvre Museum in Paris is brutally murdered and positioned in a strange and symbolic way—in the Louvre. American professor Robert Langdon happens to be in Paris and is awakened by the French police at his hotel room. They ask for his help in solving the murder. Langdon goes to the Louvre and surveys the gruesome murder scene.

Unfortunately for Langdon, this is only the beginning of his adventure. The police turn on Langdon and accuse him of the murder; Sophie Neveu, a cryptographer, helps him escape. They go together to put the pieces of the mystery together. While trying to solve the mystery, they run into many twists and turns. They also learn why they were both picked for this adventure.

I really liked this book. I had watched the movie first, so some of the surprises weren’t surprises, but it was still really good. It’s so interesting how Dan Brown meshes the symbolic with mystery, reality, and the truth. He adds just enough truth to make it seem plausible. It leaves you wondering if he found some secret, ancient document that provided him with the information.

If you’re looking for a fun, entertaining, high-action book for summer, check out The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I think you’ll enjoy it! Have you already read this book? What did you think??

Content Rating PG-13+Content Rating: PG-13+ (There’s very little profanity and no “intimacy” in this book. There is, however, some violence including a gruesome murder, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Jm1ynm

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

 Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry

 
This review was first published on 4/28/09; updated on 6/7/18.
 

Book Review of Drugs to Forget by Martin Granger

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Book Review of Drugs to Forget by Martin Granger

With all the scary stuff that happens around the world, it’s easy to worry about it. It’s easy to get scared by it, and allow it to creep into your daily thoughts. Well, I wish I could help you out with that, but unfortunately, I can’t. This book may make it worse. Sorry! Honestly, it’s a little disconcerting. It’s like watching an episode of 24 play out. However, instead of Jack Bauer you have TV documentary maker Nathalie Thompson and her crew trying to piece it all together. And with that, I hope you enjoy my book review of Drugs to Forget by Martin Granger.

Blurb:

A FOREIGN CHEMICAL AGENT IS FOUND ON BRITISH SOIL

CAN IT BE STOPPED IN TIME IN A RACE AGAINST BIOTERROR?

When film director Nathalie Thompson is commissioned to make a programme on bioterrorism, a sudden Ebola outbreak takes her on a dangerous detour to Central Africa. Posing as a Western activist and campaigner for the rights of Africans, Nathalie must investigate the involvement of a Zimbabwean terrorist group.

But when a young colleague unearths a suspicious laboratory in eastern Java that may be producing biochemical weapons, Nathalie is immersed in a violent world of corruption and bioterrorism, which is closer to home than she thinks.

My Book Review:

Wow. Let’s just say I like living in a very quiet, small town. I like staying at home with my kids, reviewing books, and proofreading. I even like subbing at the school once in awhile. Yep, I like my quiet, seemingly boring life. I don’t want to find myself in the middle of extremist groups or world-wide scams. Nope, I’m perfectly fine right here, thank you!

That’s not what Nathalie Thompson thinks, though. She sure is willing to insert herself right into the middle of everything! I like her as a character. She’s strong and brave, and she’s intelligent. She may put herself at risk, but it’s always for the sake of a good story. I think her character is well developed and believable. Her colleagues are also well developed. I liked how they all fit together, and think their different personalities worked together well. Each character has strengths and weaknesses, which makes them more realistic.

I found the story itself to be quite disconcerting. It’s uncomfortable to know that people can have such sinister plots. Of course I know there are people out there that think that way, but I don’t want to think about it. Dwelling on it just increases my anxiety.  The way the story was set up seemed plausible and a bit frightening. I liked the writing style and thought it did a good job of sucking me in and grabbing hold. You could say it may be a little too realistic.

I couldn’t put this book down. I liked the twists and turns and how everything fit together. And then the last line happens. What?!? I hated the ending. Well, the last line. I read it at least three times trying to see if I missed something or misinterpreted it. Nope, that’s the ending. Ugh. Not a fan. And I just don’t get it. Someone please help me out here! Why???

The copy of the book that I read was on my Kindle. I don’t know if I had an unproofed ARC, it didn’t say, but it was a bit challenging to read because there weren’t any chapter breaks. There also weren’t any breaks when it changed from one character to another. It would change from one character to another mid-line. I obviously figured it out, but having breaks would make it flow much better. It would make it much easier to read.

If you’re looking for a good summer, intense read, this book is for you! And if you read it, please let me know what you thought about the end line!

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including many “f” words. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is some violence. There are also quite a few adult themes including terrorism and bioterrorism.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3.5/5 (I would have given it  4/5, but I really hated that ending line.)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2kCYXXx

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry 

 

[Book Review] Road to Eugenica by A.M. Rose

Road to Eugenica by A.M. Rose

Book Review of Road to Eugenica by A.M. Rose

Wow! What a ride! I wish I could suddenly wake up with amazing abilities, especially the ability to read so quickly! That one is my favorite. I hope you enjoy my book review of Road to Eugenica by A.M. Rose.

Blurb:

“Overnight, Drea Smith has transformed from barely able to walk and text at the same time to a boss fighter with encyclopedic knowledge, and she is pretty freaked out. But when Drea learns that someone out there knows her secret and has been searching for her since she was born—created—freaked doesn’t even begin to cover Drea’s mental state. As Drea pushes her new skills to the limits to learn the truth of who, or what, she is, she uncovers that nothing, not even her world, is quite what it seems.
 

My Review:

A.M. Rose takes the reader on quite the adventure with Road to Eugenica! At times you want to hug Drea, and at other times you want to slap her for teenagerness (Yep, I totally just made up that word.). For the most part, Drea is a great character. She has a good voice, and she usually acts as a good, strong character. She has her flaws, for sure, but that makes her relatable and realistic.

The people that surround Drea play a big part in her life. I love the relationship she has with her dad. He seems like the perfect dad for her, and I liked his character a lot. Her mom comes across as more standoffish and not quite so loving, but she is busy with a demanding job so you cut her some slack. Dylan is Drea’s rock. They’ve been friends forever, and he always seems to know exactly what she needs. I liked Dylan a lot. Maddox is the new, hot guy at school. He seems nice, and Drea has fun with him. For awhile you’ve got the Bella from Twilight thing going on, and although it’s a little annoying, it’s understandable because of the circumstances.

I like A.M. Rose’s writing style. She does a great job of pulling the reader into the story. It’s easy to read and understand, the story flows well, and it comes to life on the page. It did take me a bit to get into the book, but by about halfway I couldn’t put it down.  I like the concept of the book as well. It’s creative and unique, has a bit of mystery and sci-fi to it, and you can’t miss the romance as well. And the twist at the end of the book–wow! I seriously did NOT see that coming! Ahhhhhhh! What???

I ended up liking this book a lot. It has great characters, an exciting story, mystery, romance, and good writing, but unfortunately, I have a big dilemma. This book is written for the YA audience. They will definitely enjoy Road to Eugenica! However, the profanity in this book makes it so I can’t recommend it to the YA crowd. I would not allow even my 16 year-old to read this book because of the profanity. There are probably eight or nine “f” words, and that pushes my rating up to an R, sadly. Now, if the language doesn’t bother you, then you will enjoy it.

Note to YA Authors:

*Note to YA authors: Please don’t put “f” words in a book you want YA reading. I know they hear it at school, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be in the books they read. It’s distracting and distasteful, and the stories are so much better without the profanity. Okay, I’ll step off my soap box now.  

 

Content Rating RRating: R (There’s a lot of profanity, including probably eight or nine “f” words. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but the actual word is said once. This book does have some kissing, and there is also some minor violence as Drea fights off the bad guys.)

Age Recommendation: Adult (It’s written for the YA audience, but I can’t recommend it for that age group because of the language.)

Rating: 3/5 stars. I would have given it 4 stars, but because of the language I knocked it down to 3.

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris The Sage Challenger by Chad Rassmussen  Devil in the Microscope by Ryan Decaria
 
 

[Book Review] Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

[Book Review] Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians (Book #1) by Brandon Sanderson

I haven’t read anything else by Brandon Sanderson, but I think he has outdone himself with this book. Let me just say that I haven’t ever laughed out loud at a book like I did with this one! I am so excited to share with you my book review of  Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians! 
 

Blurb:

 “On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry receives a bag of sand in the mail, an inheritance from his lost parents. When it is immediately stolen, he learns that it is no ordinary bag of sand. With it, the evil Librarians who secretly rule the Hushlands–Librarian-controlled nations, such as the United States, Canada, and England–will finally overtake the Free Kingdoms as well. Alcatraz and his ragtag band of freedom fighters must stop them, once and for all.”
 

My Book Review:

 
One of my friends in my book group recommended this series to me about a year ago. I got them at the library for my son, but never had the chance to read them myself. I checked them out again for my daughter to read, and finally  read the first one. I have to say, this book is so much fun! The voice in the book is hilarious! It’s told in first person, and I don’t think I’ve read another book where the first person narrator has such an engaging, witty, and humorous voice. Alcatraz suddenly gets pulled into this crazy world of evil librarians and conspiracies. Even though he’s the supposed hero, the first words in the book are, “I am not a good person.”
 
This book is a (fictional) autobiography of Alcatraz. In it, he tells his life story. I love how he says in the book that the evil Librarians will advertise it as a fictional book (because they don’t want the truth out), but it’s really an autobiography. So fun! It is very well written, engaging, creative, imaginative, and humorous. Yes, there are some scary parts where Alcatraz, Bastille, Grandpa Smedry, and Sing are in grave danger and have to fight those evil Librarians, but the way they’re written makes it seem not so bad.
 
I love the idea of the different lenses (Want more info. on the lenses….read the book!). Did you know that there are actually more than seven continents on the earth? Those evil Librarians have gotten away with not teaching us about them. Hahaha!! I knew some of those librarians were secretly evil! Alcatraz is a great character. He’s definitely not perfect, but in the book that imperfection becomes his strength, which is a great lesson! I love the part about their different talents! Grandpa Smedry is awesome too. Bastille is a little rougher around the edges, but I liked her more as the book went on.
 
If you’re looking for a fun middle-grader/YA series (moms like it too), you’ve come to the right place! There are five books in this series. As a mom, I love finding series for my kids to read. It’s great because then I know I have five good books in a row for them to read. If you want to laugh and learn the secrets of the evil Librarians then you need to read this! The kids love it because of the humor and the adventure, and I loved it for the same reasons. It’s very creative, imaginative, and unique. I highly recommend this book! 
 

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There is no profanity and no “intimacy.” There is some violence with characters being tortured-it’s not too graphic, fighting with different weapons, and lots of stuff breaking. Of course there is a bad guy, and he’s a really good bad guy!!)

 

Age Recommendation: 3rd grade and up (It’s a great middle-grader/YA book!)

Rated 4/5 Stars

4 Star Rating

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Fablehaven book #1 by Brandon Mull Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1) by M.L. Forman  Janitors (Book #1) by Tyler Whitesides
  
 
 
 

This post was first published on 12/23/16; updated on 2/27/18.

[Book Review] The Sage Challenger by Chad Rasmussen

The Sage Challenger by Chad Rasmussen

[Book Review] The Sage Challenger by Chad Rasmussen

Blurb:

“The day Arian Coles stepped into the CUBUS his life would be changed forever. His scores were high enough to thrust him into the world’s greatest and most dangerous competition. But this is no game, the winner will become one of the ten world leaders–a Sage. According to Sage Law there must always be Ten Sages, but the eldest, Kanja, is dying. He must be replaced. Unable to find a suitable replacement among their own people, the Sages turn to the working class populace and institute the Challenger Competition. Through their love of intelligence, athleticism, technology, and extreme sports they have created The Challenges–ten Challenges in the most dangerous locations on earth. Making friends and foes along the way, Arian must be on his guard at all times. He must decipher his feelings between Maria and Ciana and decide if one is his ally or enemy. At the brink of death, Arian will have to prove if he has the fortitude to make it through unimaginable adversity and be crowned a Sage. But is this the end goal for Arian? He must decide what his true purpose is.” 

My Review:

Wow! What a ride! Full disclosure: Chad Rasmussen lives in my neighborhood. It always makes me a little nervous to review books for people that I know. What if I hate it? What if it’s poorly written? Especially with first-time authors, you never know what you’re going to get. So, when his wife asked if I’d read his book, I said, “Yes,” and then I got worried. However, I needn’t have worried. In his debut novel, Chad Rasmussen takes one part Hunger Games, one part The Amazing Race, and one part Olympics, and successfully mixes them all up into one crazy concoction of action, revenge, betrayal, amazing feats, and change for the Cive people. You can’t help but like Arian. He’s strong, determined, intelligent, easy to relate to, and courageous. The Challenges are insane! Racing on snowboard-type boards on sand dunes, capoeira to the death, soccer on water skates, and flying suits. I was really glad that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law introduced me to capoeira so that I knew what they were talking about. I watched them in a tournament once, and it was quite exciting! Here’s a video of what capoeira is. It’s 8.5 min, but you just need to watch the first couple of minutes to see what it is.  

What did you think? Pretty fun to watch, right? Now just picture them fighting to the death using capoeira. On a small platform. Thousands of feet in the air. Scary! Overall, I’d say that this book is well written. The characters are developed well, the story flows well, is easy to read and understand, and it’s full of action. The Challenges are exciting to read about, and the relationships Arian has with Maria, Shen, and Komi add such a great element to the story. I loved how they supported him. I’d say that overall it was a bit predictable, but there were enough surprises along the way to keep me reading. I came to enjoy this sci-fi world that Chad Rasmussen has created. The ending was a bit of a drop-off-a-cliff, so I hope there is a second book to take us off the ledge we’re hanging from.

Content Rating PG+

Rating: PG+ (There was one swear word that I remember, so not terrible there, and there isn’t any “intimacy,” except for some brief kissing. It is quite violent though. A lot of characters die, and some of them quite graphically.)

Age Recommendation: Young Adult and up (12+)

 
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, and Chad Rasmussen does live in my neighborhood; however, this did not affect my review.
 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Earth-Sim by Jade Kerrion   Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card   The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris
 
 

Before The Fall

Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

Blurb:

“On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family. With chapters weaving between the after-math of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage. Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.”

My Review:

Talk about intense! I was hooked from the very beginning. The characters and their lives were so intriguing. They were well developed, real-to-life, and each of their stories drew me in. There were times I liked Scott and times I didn’t, but overall he just seemed like an ordinary guy who was thrown into a very difficult situation and really didn’t know how to handle it. I can totally see how he could go from hero to suspect with the media as it is today, and that it sad. Seeing it from that perspective made me think a lot about the media and how things are reported. It was also a good chance to take a step back from some of the current stories and look at them from a different perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in the feelings of the moment, and easy to forget that there are real people with real lives behind the stories. Anyway, that was a little bit of a tangent, but it was part of the story. The story was well crafted, and transitioned easily in between the past and the present. As each piece of the puzzle is put into place, your mind tries to figure out if that piece is the one that matters, or the one that caused the horrible tragedy. You’ll think you’ve got it figured out, and then comes the next piece that has just as much cause for scrutiny. I thought this book was well written with surprises, twists, suspense, and a human element that holds the whole thing together. I couldn’t put it down!

The only negative I have about this book is the language. Oh boy! It has so much language that had I not been reviewing it I would have stopped reading it. Had it been a movie I would have walked out. Boo. Why? Why does it need the language? Why ruin a great story line with such distracting profanity? It’s irritating and disappointing. As a reader it is very distracting. There are the normal words, and then there are way too many “f” words. There is also an interesting “intimacy” scene that isn’t, but it is. There’s drug use, and there is also the violent situation that the whole book is based on where lots of people die. It’s too bad; I would love to recommend this story to my friends and family, but I can’t because of the language. However, if profanity does not bother you, you will love this book.

Rating: R (Not recommended for YA or younger readers) There is so much profanity, especially the “f” word. There is an “intimacy” scene that is, but it isn’t. There is also drug use and a violent situation where lots of people die.

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This book is a SheReads.org book of summer!

The Shadow Throne (Book #3 of the Ascendance Trilogy)

The Shadow Throne (Book #3 of the Ascendance Trilogy)
by Jennifer Nielsen

Blurb:

War has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does. His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighboring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya’s throne?

My Review:

I like Jaron, but boy does he drive me crazy! I think we are 100% opposite from each other! I do not like taking risks, I’m not witty, and hopefully I’m not as crazy as he is (My kids might disagree with me on that one). Just like always, Jaron is crazy and makes rash decisions that affect those around him. Besides Jaron driving me crazy, I have really enjoyed this series. The characters are fun and interesting, the plot is full of surprises and unknowns, and it’s full of action and adventure. This is a great last book. There were a few surprises that I did not like, though. It was funny because my 11 year-old and 13 year-old sons read this book before I got to it, and they kept telling about these twists that they didn’t expect or like. I thought they were being dramatic! And then when I got to those parts I would plead with them to tell me that those things didn’t really just happen. Yeah, maybe I’m the dramatic one? Some of those surprises ended up being ok, but others did not. There’s a hint of mystery in this book, which adds a fun dimension. I thought the plot progressed well, the characters grew and developed, and it all ended up as it should have. It may have ended up too nicely tied with a bow, but it’s a middle-grader book, and I loved it anyway. Middle-graders still need a good tied-with -a-bow ending sometimes, and honestly, so do I. So it was good. If you like the first two books in this series then you definitely need to read this one!

They are fighting a war, so it is violent in some places. People die, including a few main characters. There are descriptions of the fighting that are a little graphic. There is no profanity or “intimacy” (yay!).

Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity or “intimacy,” but there is some violence as they fight in the war, and people die, including a few main characters.)

Recommendation: 4th grade and up. This is a great middle-grader read. It would make a fun read-aloud as well.

Castle of Fire

Castle of Fire (Adventures of Jonathan Moore Book #2) by Peter Greene
“The once-orphaned Jonathan Moore is now reunited with his father, though soon leaves the comfort of family and London on what is considered by all to be a ‘peach’ of a mission. However, with the arrival of another midshipman holding a severe but unexplained grudge, life aboard the HMS Danielle is anything but pleasant. Why are the new midshipmen his enemies? Who is stealing food from the ship’s stores, and why must Jonathan and Sean sneak into a heavily guarded Spanish fort in the middle of the night to do some burglary of their own? In the second book of the Adventures of Jonathan Moore Series, Jonathan must capture a stolen British ship from blood-thirsty pirates, solve the mystery of the surprising stowaway, and defend his honor and his life during a fierce duel to the death with a murderous adversary. Alone and vastly outnumbered, the crew of the Danielle engages in a violent battle on the wild seas south of the farthest tip of Africa. Only Jonathan, Sean, and an unexpected guest can turn the tide of the struggle by unlocking the secret of a mysterious island and re-igniting the ferocious power of the Castle of Fire!
I loved the first book in this series, Skull Eye Island, and my boys did too. Since I received the second book, a long time ago, my boys have asked me many times if I have read it yet. Well, I finally got to read it! Good ol’ Jonathan is back at it, with his trusty friend Sean. The characters are the same, with the exception of a few more. The characters in this book are so fun. I love their personalities and their relationships. There are a few grumpy old (and young) sailors, and even a few happy ones have their moments of temper, but they each have their place on the ship, and each makes for a great story. There is a lot of action in this book, as there was in the first book. There’s sword fighting, pirates, cannons, stealing pirate ships, a little romance, a stowaway, friendship, and much more. 
I didn’t love this book as much as I did the first, unfortunately. I thought it started slowly and didn’t really get into the story or the action until half-way through the book. I was disappointed. However, the end of the book was great and got back into the adventure and the fun of the first book. The ending made reading this book worth it. There were a lot of grammatical and spelling errors in this book, which drove me crazy. I hope there is another edition out that has fixed all the errors, but I’m not sure if there is. This book is clean, though, and that is fantastic! I love it when I can hand a child a book and not worry at all about questionable words or content. If you liked the first book in the series then you should read this one. Push through the beginning and you’ll love the ending. 
Rating: PG (Fighting pirates, sword fighting, a few minor characters die)
Recommendation: 9 years old (Fourth Grade-ish) and up. My boys read Harry Potter in third grade and Fablehaven in second grade. If that is the case then this book would be fine for third graders. It’s no worse than Harry Potter. There are some sailing terms they may not understand, but that is a quick (google) fix. 
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

George Goes To Mars

George Goes To Mars by Simon Dillon
(Summary taken from an email the author sent me) “When George Hughes discovers he has inherited the planet Mars, he goes from poverty to becoming the richest boy on Earth overnight. Accompanied by his new guardian, a mysterious secret agent, and a crew of astronauts, George voyages to Mars to sell land to celebrities wanting to build interplanetary homes. But sabotage, assassination attempts and an alien threat plunge him into a deadly adventure.”

This book has a little bit of everything: action, adventure, mystery, space, a touch of romance, a few surprises, and some politics scattered here and there. Hahaha…..you know how I feel about that last one in middle-grade and early YA books. Yeah, not my favorite. Anyway, there are some good moments in this book. I liked a few of the characters. I liked Giles and I liked George’s parents. I also liked a few of the characters on the space expedition. For some reason, I just didn’t latch onto George. I’m not quite sure why, but I didn’t relate to him at all. The story line was ok. I actually found a lot of it too unbelievable to even go with. It’s not fantasy where you can kind of go with it, it’s sci-fi and supposed to be realistic, and I didn’t really find it to be realistic. The whole premise was a little out there for me. I wanted to like this book because I liked “Uncle Flynn,” Mr. Dillon’s other book, but it just kind of fell flat for me. My boys might like it more than I did; maybe it’s more of a boy thing. I usually like sci-fi, and space can interest me, but this time I just didn’t care what happened to George (even though I wanted to), and that usually isn’t a good sign. 

There are a couple of swear words, but that’s all. There’s some violence with fighting and bullies, and a deadly river with some graphic descriptions. There are some deaths as well. 

I might give this to my boys to read (they are 12 and 10), because it may just be a boy thing. I’ll let you know if they enjoy it more than I did.

Rating: PG+ (Minor language, violence with bullies, deaths, fighting in a war, and a deadly river with some graphic descriptions)

Recommendation: 5th grade and up (10-11 year-old), and  I think boys will be more interested than girls.


(It’s only $.99 on amazon.com right now, so it might be worth the read.)