Mini-review: The New Phenomenon (Chris Raabe)

Product Details:
Reading Level: Middle Grades, young YA
Pages: 368
Publisher: WriteLife, LLC
ISBN: 9781608080397
Source: book from the author in exchange for an honest review

The New PhenomenonEvery teenager wants to fit in, and Christian Pearson is no different. He is a phenomenon on the athletic field and in the classroom, but a terrifying accident on a fishing trip with his grandfather changes Christian's life forever. As he enters his freshman year of high school, Christian hides a secret that he plans to take to his grave. When the Pearson family moved from the city to the sleepy town of Red Oak, Iowa, before his freshman year of high school, Christian hoped for a smooth transition to small town life. Being the new kid in school has been a blessing and a curse. Most of the boys in Christian's class view him as a threat, so Christian struggles to fit it, but as an outcast, his secret is safe. When three freshmen, all from the same family, start school a week late, Christian senses something different about these new students. He reaches out to "The Three" seeking some semblance of friendship in his new hometown. When "The Three" confront Christian about the secret he hides, Christian is faced with a huge problem. Will this secret cost Christian his friends, his family, his freedom, and even his life?

My thoughts:
Innovation– I liked that the majority of this story felt realistic. The situations that Christian, the main character, faced were believable (i.e. bullying, peer pressure). I think younger teens could relate to his experiences as a freshman in high school. There was an element of paranormal to the plot. I liked how the author used the mystery of Roswell as part of his plot.

Story– I would consider this one a paranormal thriller/suspense book. While many of the conflicts that the main character faces are realistic, his special power that makes him a government interest is far from your everyday occurrence.   There was enough suspense to keep the pages turning, even though I found myself scanning over the lengthy football details. (Main character is a football star… more teen boy appeal.) The G-rated romance factor would appeal to girls, but not make the boy readers want to vomit from mushiness. =)

I feel that this book is geared more towards the young male reader because there is a lot of detail given to football terminology and team dynamics. I think that would grab the attention of many male readers. The subtle inclusion of the paranormal elements didn’t overwhelm the story, which would act as a smooth “introduction” to the genre for a reader.
Characters– I liked Christian well enough. He’s a typical main character—nothing that really stands out and wows me. I did appreciate his fascination with S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Clint Eastwood. The characters that I liked the most were Alexis and Christian’s dad. If I grew up in a small town, my own father would be this character: strong and supportive with a corny sense of humor. The whole family dynamic with this set of characters was very wholesome.

I liked Alexis because there was a sense of mystery about her. She was rough around the edges and tough as nails. She rocked. She stood up to the school bully in a very classic scene. That brings me to another character… Calvin, the antagonist. I didn’t like Calvin but that is because he was well written. You aren’t supposed to like Calvin. He was a bully and a punk. The author did a good job showing those character traits.  
Sticky Fingers – I read this in two nights. The plot had a steady ebb and flow of climax building and suspense. The author’s writing style is easy to read. The characters’ dialogue reminds me of what I might hear in a small mid-western town (a far cry from the urban setting that surrounds me).

Emotional Connection – Neutral. There wasn’t much that I could connect to as a reader, other than my love of S.E. Hinton books.
Overall– 3 stars. It was an easy read that would probably appeal to boys (sports fan).

Best Book Ever

Short and Sweet

Coranne (or Amanda C.) from Short and Sweet Reviews hosts a weekly feature called "The Best Book Ever." Each week, different bloggers (some stay the same each week) will be "facing off" Food Network style to tell you why their choice of book is the best one in the genre. Each week a different topic will be featured.

This week's topic... Best Cover Ever I was torn this week. There are SO many gorgeous covers out there, it's impossible to pick just one. So, I decided to go with a book that makes me smile every time I look at it. I haven't read it yet, but the cover alone grabbed my attention and made me covet this book like a pair of Jimmy Choos.

My featured book:
 Beauty Queens

You can check out Short and Sweet Reviews and see what other books are being featured this week.

Next week's topic: Best Children's Book

On Sale This Week


Look what made its way to book stores this week!
Click on the images for more information about the books.

  Underworld (Abandon Trilogy #2) City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, #5) Enchanted
Endure (Need, #4) Flora's Fury (Flora Trilogy, #3) Hemlock (Hemlock, #1)
Never Fall Down The Princesses of Iowa Second Chance Summer

See You at Harry's The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls Until I Die (Revenants, #2)
Hemlock, Enchanted, Underworld? All in the same week? Oh my! That's pretty darn exciting. I'm curious about Endure as well. While I'm not a huge fan of that series, I need closure! Plus, the Norse mythology undertones in book 3 won me over (slightly). Which books are you excited about?

Review: A Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (Christopher Healey)

Product Details:
Reading level: Middle Grades, fairy tale retellings
Pages: 419
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (May 1, 2012)
ISBN: 9780062117434
Source: a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your KingdomEnter a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You've never head of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as "Prince Charming." But all of this is about to change...

Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Guztav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it's up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other associated terrors to becom the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

What I think about this book in one word: Hilarious. Two words: Absolutely brilliant. As a whole: one of THE best fractured fairytales ever. Seriously.
Let’s start with the plot. Bumbling heroes, an evil witch, a diplomatic giant, vegetarian trolls, and princesses that don’t need rescuing—a perfect combination for a fast-paced plot full of hijinks and adventure. I fell in love with this story on the first page. The opening line says, “Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies. Didn’t know that did you?” The light-hearted tone from the opening line runs throughout this book. I literally laughed out loud in places. If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, you will love this book. I guarantee it. There are so many twists to the original tales that this book becomes its own version of a fairy-tale. How great is it to make Snow White slightly off her rocker and Cinderella like a ninja?

The characters are extremely enjoyable too. The Princes Charming (there was a grammar lesson attached to this name in the book) are pretty ticked off that they go nameless in all the tales. They want people to know who the “Prince Charming” in the story really is. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. But when Cinderella goes “missing,” a true hero senses the opportunity for a rescue. And so this team of misfit heroes is formed (in a rather entertaining way).

Gustav is one of my favorite characters in the book. Nicknamed “Angry Man” by a troll, he undergoes the greatest transformation throughout the story. Short tempered and often irrational, he is more of a liability than an asset. But he does learn a few lessons along the way. His slowly developing friendship with Frederick—the OCD Prince Charming belonging to Cinderella—is rather endearing. Of course, Frederick is hilarious in his own right. He’s the smooth talker in the group, which is a good thing because he can’t do anything else. Then there are the princes Liam and Duncan.  Liam seems to have things together, except that he thinks he’s unstoppable. But Duncan is the life of the party. There is something “off” about Snow White’s beau. The man names animals that randomly appear in the forest! That’s not normal.

I would be wrong to discuss characters and not mention the leading ladies in this story. They were independent, strong-minded, and better heroes than the men. Not your stereotyped princesses by any means. Cinderella could be a super ninja. I enjoyed the side stories that told of her adventures sans the Princes Charming. When the stories finally merge, it forms a great team of heroes that I can’t wait to read more about. (And I do hope they will be recruiting more princesses into the team.)

I’m happy to say that this book is the beginning of a series. I am anticipating this book becoming a favorite. It should be read aloud so everyone can appreciate the witty humor and antics in the story. Otherwise, people nearby will wonder what’s wrong with you as you laugh out loud with every turn of the page.


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