Aru Shah and the End of Time

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi is the first book in a juvenile fantasy series.

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah is a bit of an outcast. She isn’t as rich or popular as the kids at her school, so she tends to stretch the truth a bit. This time, it has gotten her in BIG trouble–world ending trouble.

Aru lives at the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture with her mom and when she gets caught in a lie, she lights a forbidden lantern and ends up releasing The Sleeper, who is going to end the world if not stopped. Well, it’s a good thing Aru is, unbeknownst to her, the reincarnation of one of the five Pandava brothers from Indian myth and it is duty to stop the sleeper and save the world… in her Spiderman pajamas.

With the help of a talking pigeon and one of her reincarnated Pandava brothers, who is allergic to everything and obsessed with death, Aru must travel to the Kingdom of the Dead and make right what she started. Sounds easy right?

Hmm, this was a slowwww read for me. I just opened it up and could not get into it, until about 200+ pages in. It did pick up speed toward the end but it was surprisingly hard to want to pick up this book. It has all the elements of a great juvenile fantasy and is somewhat reminicent of Riordan’s Lighting Thief, so many kids will probably enjoy it but I just couldn’t get into it.

There is a lot of great Indian myth and legend come to life in the book, which I think will appeal to a lot of kids but, not know much about these myths ahead of time myself, made me feel a little lost.

I don’t think I personally would continue the series but if a 5-7th grader were looking for a new one to start and liked the Riordan books, I think they might just enjoy this one.

This books gets 3 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Masterminds

Masterminds by Gordon Korman is the first book in a juvenile fiction series probably good for 4-7th graders.

Eli Frieden has never even stepped outside of his hometown Serenity, New Mexico… but when you live in a town that is perfect in every way, why would you want to. At least that is what he’s been raised to believe, until one day he bikes to the edge of town and everything changes.

Now Eli is questioning everything that make Serenity what it is, even his own father might be in on it… but in on what? Together he and his friends work together to uncover what secrets a town without secrets is really hiding. And what they found out, will shift the way they think about their world forever.

Once the truth is out, will anything ever be the same?

This is actually an older title and I think the entire series may actually be out, which will be a plus to my book club crew because I tend to pick titles that they have to wait for the sequels for.

I sort of love this idea of these kids finding out that they are clones of criminal masterminds and now they are wondering if they are good, bad or something in between. And it was so much fun seeing the little hints of inherited talent that may or may not have come from their DNA.

There’s also a lot of great discussion questions that can be pulled out of this book, while it still being entertaining to the kids. Questions about living in a “perfect” town, living without secrets, value vs love, censorship and more. The discussion we can have over nature vs nurture is going to be really interesting.

Overall, this was a fun book with a lot of good potential for a book club. I’d probably recommend this one for 5-6th graders. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells is a 4-6th grade juvenile fiction novel about a smart kid who teams up with the police to catch art thieves.

Sixth grader Edmund, aka Eddie Red, has a photographic memory and some really great art skills, which makes him the perfect tool for the NYPD to use to catch a renowned group of art thieves called the Picasso Gang. But not everyone is as thrilled as Eddie is to be working with the police.

As Eddie continues to work the case, he and his genius best friend dig themselves in deeper and may find themselves in a whole lot of trouble.

This was a fun, quick read that will be an easy one for my 4-6th grade book club. It is perfect for mystery and action readers alike. It is also the first book in a series, which parents are always looking for when trying to get their kids to read more.

One of the things I love about this book is that Eddie doesn’t get all full of himself once he starts working with the police. He openly admits that he is scared and he has the same flaws any kid would have–he’s short, skinny, sometimes awkward, has to deal with bullies and school work, and a budding interest in girls that makes his hands sweat and his stomach knot. I think this is great for a middle grade read. Relatable characters that are still extraordinary are some of my favorites.

I also think the artwork inserted here and there throughout the book adds a nice touch. And for the budding artists out there, there is a short face drawing tutorial at the end.

Overall, this was a good read for 4-6th graders and though not super deep, should be a decent one for discussion. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Earth Keeper’s Challenge

The Earth Keeper’s Challenge by Maria Langella Sorgie and Tara Langella is the second book in The Earth Keeper’s Trilogy.

Nimue’s journey continues as she learns more about the plant and animal world of the Earth Keeper’s, all while balancing her school and home life. When Nimue takes Grandfather Ginseng to school with her one day, he disappears and in her frantic search for him, Nimue learns that the natural world she has come to love is in grave danger.

Now with the help of her fellow Earth Keeper’s, Nimue and her friends must fight against Miss Pharma to heal the planet. But the Keeper’s will face unexpected challenges and fears that they must overcome to bring order back to natural world. Can they do it? Will they be enough?

The Earth Keeper’s Challenge is an easy read for 2-4th graders. It’s one of those books you could finish in one sitting and picks right back up from the first book. In fact, if you haven’t read the first book, I’d even recommend picking both up at the same time and reading straight through.

One of the things I like about this book is that we see a little more about the Earth Keeper’s world. We find out that there are more Earth Keeper’s than just Nimue and that each of them come from around the world and have their own bond with nature and their horse companion. This is great because it shows that we all have to be responsible for our planet, not just one person/area/country.

I also love the artwork throughout the story and the feel of the characters and setting.

The story does end somewhat abruptly, but if you read the first book, then you know that we’re running full steam ahead into the third and final book. It’s one of those reads where your like, “ahh I need to know what happens!” and you anxiously await the next one, which, fortunately, seem to come out fairly quickly.

This one gets a high 4.5-5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman is a 4-5 grade juvenile fiction novel.

Twelve-year-old Coke and Pepsi are getting read to go on a cross country road-trip with their “clueless” parents, when they find out that they are being targeted by a mystery group that is out to kill them. Good thing they are hitting the road for awhile. Or is it?

Coke and Pepsi seem to have been roped into a secret government organization called The Genius Files, where it is up to genius kids to save the world. With no real choice in the matter, the twins go about their vacation with one eye open but can they keep the secret from their parents and more importantly, will they make it home alive?

Full of geography and little-known tourist destinations around the county, The Genius Files is a quick, action packed read.

And with that summary, I hate to say, I wasn’t wowed by this book. It could be because of the many “questionable” moral decisions the twins make–but they didn’t feel even remotely like realistic characters to me. And I get that this is fiction and they really aren’t meant to be “normal” but I didn’t find them relatable at all.

I did enjoy the many out of the way, wacky destinations that Gutman includes in the novel and it’s sort of neat that you can follow along via Google Maps if you want to. I could totally see an interesting book report coming out of this.

The ciphers were fun; I am a sucker for a good cipher. I could totally see making one up for my book club to uncover. You could even do a STEM project where each cipher leads to a different spot on a map, until you discover your final location.

Overall, this was an entertaining read and I think will be popular with fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants and Dog Man. But for me, it only gets three stars.

That’s all for now!

-M-