Starter Zone (The Revelation Chronicles book 1)

by Chris Pavesic, 2017.

When scientists found a way for people to live forever, it seemed like a good thing. Hydrologists found that consciousness could be imprinted on a droplet of water and kept in tanks. But when the tanks were breached, disaster ensued and civilization as we know it dissolved.

Cami and her little sister, Alby, are trying to make their way out of the post-apocalyptic city in hopes of finding safety in the country. However, rain is dangerous now because each drop could contain someone’s consciousness looking for a body to house it. Combating people and nature is only the beginning of Cami and Alby’s adventure.

Starter Zone is a cracking story and a great start to an exciting new series. Full of mystery, intrigue, and high stakes, the story will pull readers in and keep them reading. Pavesic’s gaming history is clear in the writing and I think lovers of role-playing games, both virtual and IRL will especially enjoy the story.

Thanks to the generosity of the author, I had the opportunity to both read and listen to Starter Zone through the Kindle and Audible versions. The audio book is well produced and performed with varied voices, making the story and characters easy to follow. The one exception to this is the computer voice that gives results and statistics. I found that difficult to follow. Fortunately, this didn’t make it hard for me to follow the story line. All-in-all I loved having the audio book to listen to as I finished knitting my Christmas gifts.

I recommend Starter Zone to pre-teen and teen readers and to adults who like a good game-based adventure. I was quickly drawn into the story and began rooting for Cami and Albi from the first chapter. I was a bit startled at the somewhat abrupt ending to this first book of the series, but it also left me eager to read the next installment.

Chris Pavesic knows how to tell an epic story with interesting personal and ethical problems for the main character to overcome. I’ll be watching for more books in the Revelation Chronicles series.



Ellie, Engineer

by Jackson Pearce, Bloomsbury USA Childrens 2018.

When the boys of the neighborhood exclude the girls from their soccer game, Ellie Engineer and her best friend Kit strike back by building an amazing water balloon launcher and soaking them all. The water balloon launcher is just one of the many engineering ideas that Ellie keeps in a notebook in her tool belt along with her hammer, two screwdrivers, and her prized possession, a mini electric drill. Ellie loves engineering, and all the neighborhood kids are eager to help, but the ins and outs of friendship prove a bit harder to solve than the problems Ellie encounters with a hammer and nails. Nevertheless, Ellie persists and puts her brain to work to solve problems both physical and personal.

I predict that Ellie, Engineer will inspire a generation of tool-carrying, invention-drawing kids in the same way that Harriet the Spy inspired note-scribbling, sneaking kids in my generation. Readers will root for Ellie as she designs solutions to problems and gets herself out of scrapes. Themes include questioning gender roles, friendship, and inventiveness. For teachers looking for strong girls and STEM connections, you’ll find them in this delightful new series.

Ellie, Engineer is the first of Jackson Pearce’s books I’ve read, but I’m now inspired to look for more. You can bet I’ll be waiting expectantly for the next book in the Ellie, Engineer series to come out.

I received a review copy of Ellie, Engineer from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It will be on sale Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

Children of Refuge by Margaret Peterson Haddix

refuge-for-websiteSimon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017

In Fredtown, where he lived for the first twelve years of his life, Edwy was the rebel, the one who wanted to turn the rules on their heads, the one who thought the Freds weren’t giving the kids of Fredtown the whole story. But in his real home with his true parents, there are just as many secrets, and things are so different, it’s even hard to figure out how to rebel. What’s clear is that something big and very, very bad happened before Edwy was born. Edwy decides to find out what it was and enlists the help of Rosi, the other oldest kid from Fredtown, but before he knows it, Edwy is whisked away to the city of Refuge, leaving his promise of watching out for Rosi unfulfilled.

In Refuge the rules have changed once again, and no one seems to have answers for Edwy. At first, life in Refuge seems easy, but over time Edwy’s promise to watch over Rosi weighs on him – she’s still back in the town with her parents. When Edwy gets news of what is happening to Rosi, he knows he will have to use his wits and enlist the help of strangers to save her and to solve the mysteries of his new home.

The second book in the series, Children of Refuge continues the story of the return of the children from Fredtown through Edwy’s point of view. The compelling questions and characters keep coming as readers journey with Edwy and learn even more about his world.

Margaret Patterson Haddix continues the series masterfully, switching viewpoints for this second novel from Rosi to Edwy and enlarging our knowledge of the world. Haddix’s characters are fully developed and engaging. Edwy’s growth through the novel as he solves problems and adjusts to his new life is satisfying and real. I read through books one and two very quickly, engrossed in the story. I will be waiting on pins and needles for the next book in the series.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Children of Exile

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016

There are many rules in Fredtown, and sometimes it’s hard for Rosi to follow them. It seems like Edwy, the other twelve-year-old in Fredtown, doesn’t even try. But Rosi knows the rules are meant to ensure that everyone gets along and lives respectfully together. In fact, life in Fredtown with her Fred-parents is pretty great, except for the fact that it’s not her real town or her real parents. Rosi has known this all her life; nevertheless, she’s shocked when she learns that all the kids in Fredtown are going home to the real parents they left when they were newborns.

Rosi has a million questions. Why have they been raised in Fredtown since they were tiny babies? If she does have real parents in another town, why haven’t they come to get her before now? If the town her parents live in is too dangerous for kids like Rosi and her brother, why are the kids being sent back there now? Rosi takes very seriously her responsibility to help the younger kids through the trip. But as soon as they leave Fredtown, Rosi begins to question all she’s ever been taught by the Freds and everything she thought she knew. Nothing in Fredtown has prepared her for her real parents or life in the town she should call home.

Grippingly written, Margaret Patterson Haddix’s Children of Exile takes readers through a dark adventure which asks big questions. Readers will be swept up not only by Rosi, her brother BoBo, Edwy, and the other children of exile, but also by questions of respect, justice, judgment, and duty as they follow Rosi through the discoveries and trials of her new life.

The first book in a series, Children of Exile’s compelling characters and soul-searching dilemmas will appeal to middle grade readers. They’ll love Rosi’s spunk and independence and hate the injustice of decisions that are made for her and for the other children. Children of Exile provides great fodder for debates about the right course of action in a situation in which humanity’s continuing existence is at risk.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Friday’s post will review the second book in the series, Children of Refuge.