adventure, fantasy, tween

Time Tracers: The Stolen Summers

Authors: Annabeth Bondor-Stone & Connor White
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fantasy / Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-0-06-267142-4
Pages: 256
Price: $16.99

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Taj can hardly wait for the bell to ring, signalling the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. He has a plan to make sure he and his friends have the best summer ever. So he’s in total shock when he wakes up the following morning and it’s the first day of school. How did he lose a whole summer? When he meets his friends that morning, they are in even worse shape than him, as they struggle to get a grip on what’s happened.

Soon, an unexpected encounter with a time tracer explains the problem. Their summers have all been stolen! Now it’s up to Taj, along with his team of Eon and Syd, to track down the summers and restore them before it’s to late. If they’re unsuccessful in their mission, it could mean doom for everyone he holds dear. But the evil person behind the thefts knows Taj is after them, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to stop him.

The Time Tracers is action-packed, and kids will eagerly keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. Gross bug-like creatures are splattered at every encounter, and there is chaos and destruction everywhere. This is a fun read for everyone, but boys will especially love Taj’s great adventure. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

adventure, children, geography

Bigfoot Seek and Find Books

Title: Bigfoot Visits the Big Cities of the World
Author: D.L. Miller
Publisher: Happy Fox Books
Genre: Seek and Find / Geography
ISBN: 978-1-64124-001-7
Pages: 48
Price: $14.99

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Bigfoot has decided to travel around the world, making stops in New York City, Athens, London, Venice, Tokyo, Toronto, San Francisco, Istanbul, and the Forbidden City. A tour guide to each city precedes the search and find puzzle. Kids are asked to not only find Bigfoot and his legendary footprint in the two-page picture, but also several other people and items that might normally be seen in the city.

Title: Bigfoot Goes on Vacation
Author: D.L. Miller
Publisher: Happy Fox Books
Genre: Seek and Find / Geography
ISBN: 978-1-64124-000-0
Pages: 48
Price: $14.99

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Bigfoot has decided to take a vacation, taking a cruise, going camping and deep sea diving, visiting the carnival, the African Plains, Yellowstone, the beach, a farm, a balloon festival, and Mini-Golf World. A visitor’s guide to each activity precedes the search and find puzzle. Kids are asked to not only find Bigfoot and his legendary footprint in the two-page picture, but also several other people and items that might normally be seen in the area.

Seek and find puzzles are challenging and fun activities for kids. In these two Bigfoot books, they not only have the opportunity to work on the puzzles, but also to learn a little bit about the cities and vacation spots described. I highly recommend them both.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

adventure, children, classics

The Wee Musketeers

The Wee Musketeers
Author: Robert Bresloff
Publisher: Pumpkinhead Productions
Genre: Children / Adventure / Classics
ISBN: 978-1482393514
Pages: 216
Price: $8.95

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Three boys pretend to be the Three Musketeers, but they’re missing the leader of the group. So when Bobby’s grandfather discovers a portal into the book, they can’t wait to join him in Paris in 1626. What they don’t realize is that by appearing and taking part in the adventure, they could possibly mess up the whole book.

D’Artagnan must make a secret journey while attempting to hide from Cardinal Richelieu’s men, and he has a few extra passengers along for the ride. Misadventures await them on their trip, and the story begins to unravel. But with Grandpa Max making sure they don’t stray too far from the text, they complete their mission without too much mishap.

Fans of The Three Musketeers will probably enjoy this book more than the casual reader, who might not always follow along with the action. The three boys are pretty much indistinguishable from each other, and it’s hard to keep track of who’s who. No character really jumps out as the hero, other than maybe Grandpa Max, and kids may find it hard to relate to anyone. The plot is relatively simple, following the original story with a few side trips along the way. Since I don’t know the original classic, I can’t say for certain where those deviations were, but it would have been nice to see more creative detours that brought out the characters’ personalities.

The text of The Wee Musketeers is free of grammatical errors and typos usually found in self-published works, and the author appears to know this classic well. But this book might be better suited as a companion work for studying the original, rather than as a stand-alone story.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

adventure, teen

Wade Boss: Hybrid Hunter

Wade Boss
Author: Marcus MacGregor
Publisher: Saddle Sore Entertainment
Genre: Teen
ISBN: 9781475239669
Pages: 242
Price: $9.99

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Wade Boss has a successful business working with exotic animals in Hollywood. So when a tiger is running loose, the police naturally call him in to help capture it. But what Wade finds is a hybrid tiger-lizard which is quickly picked up by the Genetic Anomalies Task Center – a division of Homeland Security.

Soon Wade finds himself caught up in the race to capture these hybrids, who keep appearing all over the country, before they seriously injure or kill people. The goal is to capture them alive, not kill them, but these missions test his skill in handling unpredictable and dangerous animals. While he’s caught up in his new volunteer job, his own business is suffering, and his love life is in shambles.

Wade Boss presents himself as one of the good guys. He cares about his animals and claims he generally wants to do the right thing. But his cavalier attitude toward his staff and the woman in his life make the reader wonder what really motivates him. When another attractive girl suddenly appears, he conveniently forgets he’s involved and schedules a date with the new lady. I found him arrogant and I really didn’t like him much.

The plot is also a bit of a mystery to me. Wade runs off several times chasing hybrids, but there is absolutely no reason given as to why they’re even out there. At the end of the book, a “bad guy” is identified, but that’s about all. Wade Boss is all about action and very short on substance.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

adventure, fantasy, teen

Demons and Thieves

Demons and Thieves
Author: Lynda Berger
Publisher: Fuluji’s Publishing Ltd
Genre: Adventure / Fantasy
ISBN: 9780957374300
Pages: 268
Price: £6.99

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Tad Bailey can’t take much more. After another fight between his parents, he runs from his home, wondering if things can get any worse. When he discovers a mysterious gate leading to another world, he’s offered a chance at happiness. He doesn’t know it, but he’s been living in the Shadows, and now he has the opportunity to get out.

All he has to do is find three Keys in Shiladu before time expires. If he doesn’t succeed, he’ll be stuck there forever. While he’s there, demons prey on his vulnerabilities, another visitor tries to steal his Keys, and a permanent resident of Shiladu upsets the time continuum, making Tad the scapegoat. Seeking the Keys is his ultimate goal, but he’s even more concerned with making it out of Shiladu alive.

Demons and Thieves is an exciting fantasy and adventure novel that grabbed my interest from the very beginning. Tad faces dangerous situations that he needs to escape from, and he never knows what lurks behind the next corner. Evil comes at him from every direction, keeping the reader hooked to find out what happens next. I enjoyed this story very much, and I look forward to reading the next two books in this Seven Keys Trilogy.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

adventure, cooking, dogs

Pipper’s Secret Ingredient

Pipper's Secret Ingredient
Author: Jane Murphy & Allison Fingerhuth
Illustrator: Neal Sharp
Publisher: Mutt Media
Genre: Adventure
ISBN: 978-0-615-38808-3
Pages: 145
Price: $16.95

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Pipper’s food blog is popular, and her readers expect her to dish up some tasty morsels. But Pipper is stumped, and doesn’t know what her next topic should be. When she meets with her friends, she stumbles on the idea of finding the “secret ingredient” to the best biscuit. They help her make arrangements, and off she goes on a trip around the world.

Unbeknownst to her, Bull Bogus of Bogus Biscuits has sent out a spy, hot on her tail. Bumbles follows diligently behind, leaving chaos in his wake. But Pipper has been warned about Bumbles, and she’s watching for him. Pipper meets some interesting characters and samples some wonderful food along the way. And when she finally discovers the secret ingredient, her friends agree. Her blog is a success, as is her newest enterprise.

Pipper’s Secret Ingredient blends adventure, friendship, and food in delightful proportions. Kids will enjoy Pipper’s travels, while cheering for her to outsmart Bumbles. And everyone will agree that the secret ingredient is perfect, and well worth the search. I highly recommend this entertaining adventure.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

adventure, tween

The Curse of Yama

Author: KF Ridley
Publisher: TreasureLine Publishing
Genre: Tween / Adventure
ISBN: 978-1617520518
Pages: 166
Price: $7.50

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Chloe Walker’s father is suffering from the ancient curse of Yama, and she feels she’s the only one who can save him. With her new Indian friend, Sotol, and his loyal elephant, Goesha, she heads into the jungle in search of the cure. But danger follows, as they feel Yama’s evil presence around them.

Dad is running out of time, and they have to set off at night – the most dangerous time of all to be in the jungle. On their journey, they run into an evil poacher, face the trap Yama has left for them, and attempt to return home by way of a rope bridge suspended over a canyon. Will they survive to bring the cure to Chloe’s father?

Although I could sympathize with Chloe’s dilemma, I had a hard time understanding why she would just dash off into the jungle with Sotol, without telling anyone. Others at the camp knew the jungle much better, and she would be safer if she asked for assistance. I also found her repeated concerns for her father’s life to be a distraction in this adventure. Rather than reasoning her way out of predicaments, Chloe relied on others to get her out of them, which made the danger seem less real.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

adventure, animals, children, mystery, nature, tween

Monkey Magic: The Great Wall Mystery

Author: Grant S. Clark
Publisher: Monsoon Books
Genre: Children / Animals
ISBN: 978-981-08-6132-2
Pages: 160
Price: $9.95

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The mysterious appearance of a group of monkeys at the Great Wall of China has scientists baffled. These monkeys are not native to China, so where did they come from? And why are they there?

Monkey Magic worked before for 11-year old Romy, allowing her to communicate with orangutans in The Curse of Mukada. Now she uses it to discover the monkeys’ story, but what they tell her isn’t pleasant. She will need all her wits to help them, while also keeping herself out of danger. Her new friend, Pei, shares part of her adventure, as well as some intercultural humor. And when she learns of the possibility of using Monkey Magic whenever she wants, Romy is determined to know more.

Monkey Magic: The Great Wall Mystery shows us how human greed hurts wild animals, and why we need to take immediate action to try to protect them. I highly recommend this delightful, magical tale with a great environmental message.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Saltwater Taffy

Author: Eric Delabarre
Illustrator: R.C. Nason
Publisher: Seven Publishing
Genre: Adventure
ISBN: 978-0-9723578-0-7
Pages: 272
Price: $15.95

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A pirate’s treasure is hidden somewhere in Port Townsend, Washington. When the annual clue to the Keys to Lafitte is announced, this time Scott and his friends think they have a shot at finding it.

Old Man Sheesley has already solved the first two clues left behind by Jacques Pierre Lafitte. Now there are only two remaining. But solving the puzzle could turn out to be the most dangerous thing these five friends will do. In addition to treasure hunting, they learn a lot about themselves, what friendship means, and how some of their weaknessess hold them back from being the best they can be.

Saltwater Taffy is a coming-of-age adventure that will thrill the reader with its fast-paced excitement. But any kid who reads this well-written novel will also come away with a sense that he is more than he thinks he is, and maybe even has the ability to stretch himself beyond his wildest dreams. Positive, uplifting and a great read – I highly recommend this book!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

adventure, children, history

Terra Tempo: Ice Age Cataclysm!

Author: David Shapiro
Illustrator: Christopher Herndon
Color: Erica Melville
Publisher: Craigmore Creations
Genre: Children / History / Adventure
ISBN: 978-0-9844422-1-8
Pages: 143
Price: $14.99

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Jenna and Caleb are told not to go into Uncle Al’s desk, but when they find it unlocked, they can’t resist nosing around. Uncle Al is studying the Missoula Floods, which took place during the ice age. An interactive map and travel journal offer them an unexpected opportunity to travel back in time to see it in person.

With Ari, who joins them the next day, they make the journey back to the ice age, and immediately face a preshistoric beast intent on devouring them for dinner. But a friendly thunderbird answers their call for help, and offers them taxi service. As they fly over the area, they see many extinct animals, as well as the effects of the flooding. An ice explosion, waterfalls, and whirlpools are just some of the unique sights they see.

The ice age isn’t something most people know much about, yet this time in earth’s history contributed the most to our modern-day landscape. Terra Tempo explores this era in an interesting and informative way that kids will enjoy. Time travel, adventure and the graphic novel format of this book make it an easy and fun read.

Reviewer: Alice Berger