Rave Reviews Log: Adventure

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


By Mike Lupica
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

You might know Mike Lupica from his many heart-tugging sports stories, but here he breaks genre and goes for a superhero adventure story.  Zach Harriman's life is a wreck.  His father just died in a mysterious plane crash--his father, the one that seemed invincible, the one that fought the "Bads" for the President of the United States.  As Zach tries to grieve for his father, he feels like he is missing something.  The plane crash couldn't have been an accident, his dad was too good a pilot.  But how can he find something that the officials can't?  As his anger burns inside of him, Zach starts to realize that he can do things he never could before--that he is faster and stronger and heals quickly.  Then a visit from the mysterious Mr. Herbert lets Zach know that his father was actually a superhero--minus the cape--who really DID fight the Bads in the world.  There can be only one at a time and now it is Zach's turn.  As Zach struggles with this revelation, telling only his best friend Kate, he discovers his father's best friend, Uncle John, also knows about his powers.  Uncle John tells Zach not to trust Mr. Herbert, that he is actually one of the Bads.  Who should Zach believe?  Can he trust anyone? And is a 14 year old ready to be a hero for the whole world?  Although this book doesn't break any new ground in the superhero genre, fans of superhero stories will enjoy it nonetheless.

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Red Pyramid

By Rick Riordan
Rating 4 1/4 stars

If you love adventure, Rick Riordan is your man.  This first book in the Kane Chronicles features alternating chapters by brother and sister team Sophie and Carter.  The story starts with a bang--literally--when the kids' father blows up the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum to release 5 Egyptian gods.  Their father disappears into a sarcophagus and before Sophie and Carter know it, they are being spirited off to America and introduced to a world they never knew existed--one where magicians, pharaohs and the gods of Egypt are still alive and well.  Not only that, but they discover they both are of the blood of the pharaohs and have possible great powers of magic.  But they are also on the run from the House of Life who wishes to destroy them and towards the evil god, Set, who wishes to destroy everything.  Who will survive?  And can they stop Set in time?  Readers will be on the edge of their seats, and any fans of the Percy Jackson series will be more than happy to dive into Egyptian waters.  Bring on Book 2!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Boneshaker

By Kate Milford
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

The boneshaker of the title refers to the new refurbished bike that her dad got for Natalie--but that secretly she can't figure out how to ride yet.  At least, that is what you THINK it refers to for much of the book.  In truth, this book is about a small town near a crossroads where some mystical things can happen.  It is about making bargains you were better off not making and about choosing sides.  It is about a traveling medicine show that comes to town with the appearance of wanting to heal people but with very different motives indeed.  It is about a thirteen year old girl learning that she knows things she couldn't possibly have known  and that perhaps her entire town may be counting on her to stand up and save them.  By turns it is atmospheric, and a tad creepy, and exciting and it is always involving as we discover along with Natalie what is really going on.  A supercool story.

On the Blue Comet

By Rosemary Wells
Rating: 4 stars

In this historical adventure, Oscar lives alone with his father in the 1920's in middle of nowhere Cairo, Illinois. The pair built an extensive Lionel train collection and enjoy their life until the Stock Market Crash of 1929 throws everything into chaos.  When Oscar's dad gets laid off, he decides to move to California to look for work and has to sell the house and trains, sending Oscar to live with his Aunt Carmen.  Oscar is lonely until he makes the acquaintance of a Mr. Applegate, an ex-teacher who is also drifting, looking for work.  The two form a fast friendship as Mr. Applegate tutors Oscar in math and talks to him about Einstein's theory of relativity.  It is through this friendship that Oscar discovers his trains now decorate the bank, and leads to the fateful night.  When Oscar is caught in the crossfire of a bank robbery, he leaps at the train set to save himself and finds himself able to board one of his own trains to be carried through time to the future.  But can Oscar find the help he needs in 1941?  Can he make it back to his own time?   Oscar meets many a famous person and finds many adventures as he tries to figure out how to find his way back and make things right once again. 

Friday, October 01, 2010

Trackers: Book One

By Patrick Carman
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

Readers will be hooked by this high tech adventure.  Adam is being interviewed by some kind of authority--we don't know who it is yet--but obviously, Adam seems to be in some kind of trouble.  As the interview begins, Adam explains about how he is a high tech genius, able to program code, fix computers, and invent everything from software to cameras.  In middle school, Adam meets the other "Trackers"--Finn, Lewis and Emily--all of them also technologically adept, and the foursome start making up their own small missions, testing out Adam's new inventions.  Then the unthinkable happens--Adam's precious Vault gets hacked.  The hackers want one thing--for Adam to de-code the most dangerous program out there which will give back door access to the entire World Wide Web, or else Adam's inventions and hard work will be made available to anyone, anywhere.  The Trackers quickly agree to try and chase down the hackers, but their task is much greater than they ever imagined.  Even cooler is that while reading the story, every so often Adam will direct us (the readers) to go online and type in a password which will show us videos of what's been going on with all of the characters.  Super-neat feature!  The story ends abruptly, which lets us know sequels are in the offing.  What is going to happen next?  We won't be able to wait!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: Ghost Hunter

By Michelle Paver
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

In book 6 and the finale of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Torak knows that he must face the Soul Eater and Eagle Owl Mage, Eostra to save each and every tribe in the Forest and beyond.  Renn, his friend and mage-in-training, has had visions that Eostra will be the end of Torak, but she can't tell him that.  Torak doesn't want to have to be the one to fight Eostra, so he delays, but when she sends a disease through moths, and then a deadly ice storm, he has little choice but to go.  He tries to leave Renn and Wolf behind, but they know they must all stick together if they are to win the day.  Renn, Wolf and Torak will face many hardships as they travel to the Mountain of Ghosts and fans of this excellent series will find plenty of the same kinds of adventures that have followed our heroes throughout.  Although the series comes to a dramatic end, we are sure that our heroes will discover more thrilling stories as they bound through their lives.  A good finish.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon

By David Almond
Rating: 4 3/4 stars

In this quick and fabulous read, Paul is a lonely boy living in a basement apartment of a huge apartment building.  But one day when he tries to think of what to do, it pops into his head to go and touch the sky.  So Paul begins climbing the stairs to the top of his building, and on the way, he meets some very extraordinary people who challenge him, for the first time, to start thinking in extraordinary ways.  When Paul comes up with the notion that perhaps the moon isn't an object, but a hole in the sky, his new friends do whatever they can to help him prove his theory and Paul discovers that perhaps some crazy ideas are not at all crazy. Liberally illustrated with color pictures, readers will thoroughly enjoy this book from beginning to end.  An amazing small story that bursts with fabulous characters and possibilities.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux

By Gerladine McCaughrean
Rating: 4 stars

Before he was born, Pepper's aunt had a dream that Saint Constance came to her and told her that Pepper would die before the age of 14. So for Pepper's entire life, he has been made to pray, go to confession, miss school, and so on and so on to prepare himself for his death. On his 14th birthday, in despair, Pepper decides to runaway down to the sea, and on a whim, takes his father's place as captain on a new ship. But the ship is scuttled purposely for an insurance scam and when Pepper tries to go down with the ship, he is inadvertently rescued. Now Pepper is sure the angels are on the lookout to grab him since he is past his death due date, so he begins to leapfrog through jobs and identities, cheating death at every turn yet still trying to do the right thing wherever he may be. But can a 14 year old cheat death forever? Or what if, what if, he was wrong all along? Readers won't believe Pepper's death sentence for a minute and will laugh as Pepper careens from one adventure to another. It is a story set in France and it is both dark and light, and many readers will enjoy the ride and the idea that you may not be able to run away from destiny but you can create your own.