Alex and Ian return in the sequel to The Bug Boys, back to the town of Rossolington after the collapse of the mine. The boys still have the nanobots inside them and retain the ability to take on the different aspects of live bugs they swallow. They are still working with the Secti to bring new insects back to the Nest planet, but the Secti are impatient and want a better selection of insects so they start to create their own portal outside the boys. Meanwhile, bugs start showing up from a forth portal that no one knew existed. Professor Blake Blackhart, has also ingested nanobots and tapped into their abilities, as well as improved upon them. Professor Blake however, does not have good intentions and becomes the book’s super villain to the boy’s superhero personas. Add into the story a new student Linda and her mom, the new PE teacher that takes an unhealthy interest in Alex and Ian and things get very interesting in the declining mining town of Rossolington.
The Bug Boys vs Professor Blake Blackhart is an engaging and fun novel for young adult readers and adults alike. You have your classic good vs evil theme, and kids’ vs adults. A group of four kids taking on the super villain and his sidekick kitten. Yes, a kitten. A kitten that is also infected by nanobots and has been surgically altered to be a weapon. Hoffman uses humor that draws kids in, lots of detailed descriptions about farts, the noise, the smell, the way it makes them feel. All humor that appeals to typical young adult boys. Eating bugs, but needing to keep them alive, entertaining and gross. The awkward time of puberty where boys suddenly discover girls and those awkward moments are brought out in the interactions with Linda.
Hoffman also manages to address some serious topics through this adolescent humor. Alex has to come to terms with the fact his dad is not infallible. This realization, that his father has fears, is not perfect and can make poor choices is one that hits him hard. Alex must learn to accept his father and his short comings if he can. After almost losing his father in the mine to be dealt another blow is difficult. This is relatable to young readers as they are hitting the age where they might start seeing the childhood hearos for who they really are and realizing they are not the perfect examples of humans they originally thought them to be. These can be hard times for a young teen to experience, seeing characters in a book they like can help them come to terms with reality, and give them a laugh along the way.
While Alex and Ian want to be superhero’s, they learn there is more to being a superhero than just putting on a costume and having super powers. They learn limits, asking for help, working as a team and reaching out to others when they realize they can’t do it all on their own. There are a lot of good lessons for young adults packed into this short novel. There is enough action to keep kids interested and wanting to read more. Hoffman even at the end gives readers a cryptic scene that leads us to believe we can expect more from the Bug Boys.
Pages: 154 | ASIN: B076737HRN
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A World of Wonder by Brent A. Ford and Lucy McCullough Hazlehurst is an educational combination of photographs and poetry, designed to be enjoyed by parents and children together. Giving the latter an interest in the world and to act as a starting point for appreciating its wonders. It consists of 41 high-quality, color images of nature and natural phenomena across the globe, each paired with a relevant, short poem – some newly written for the book, and some classics. The interactive copy has links to further information related to each photo.
The first thing that struck me was the quality of the photos, which are expertly-framed, beautiful shots of a range of animals, scenery, and weather across the globe, as well as views from beyond the upper atmosphere. As an adult, I still wonder at many of them, so it must be magical for a child. They evoke multiple emotions – some are dramatic, some cute, some calm – but all are of a suitable nature for young children, as should be expected.
The accompanying poems are apt for the stated age range of 3-8, and grade level K-2; they’re short, accessible and fun to read aloud. Some are humorous, while many are more instructive about the habits of animals or natural processes. They match well with the photos, and explore different aspects of life on Earth.
The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation of all kinds between parents and children; it’s easy to tell that the authors have experience in education. Not just parents, but teachers could certainly get a lot of use out of this book, too.
It’s not particularly long, and because it’s designed to be picked up and put down, it seems perfect for different attention spans and available periods of time. It could be used at bedtime, or for car journeys.
The amazing choice of photographs enables you to revisit this book many times, so parents can ask different questions to highlight different points and to introduce more complex ideas as their child grows. This flexibility of use would is a huge draw for parents. It would be ideal for guessing games – trying to remember the photo from the poem, or even the poem from the photo. Budding artists could get some great inspiration from it, and it could be a very useful starting point for crafting projects or for guided research about animal habits and habitat.
I appreciate the authors’ aims and the work that they have put into the book in order to achieve them. A World of Wonder truly delivers on the wonder that it promises.
Pages: 88 | ASIN: B072LJWBSZ
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When three alien species detect the complete dissolution and waste of a planet in a neighboring solar system, they send out their top specialists to control the out of hand situation that is running rampant over this foreign land. A group of highly skilled teenagers stands at the forefront of the mission, ready to put down these animals and save what they can of this planet. But after diving into the intricacies of what makes this planet’s inhabitants so unworthy to possess their home, will the damage to this place and its inhabitants be too much to save? Or is there hope for this hell world?
“Where are all of their superheroes and gods now?” opens chapter 15 of n o o n e’s Hell World. A story of a group of alien teenagers’ invasion of a planet so vastly different from their own challenges the idea of what it means to be merciful to creatures who are viewed as less intelligent.
From the beginning of the story, the author starts to create a visual of this “hell world” through lengthy description. What the author lacks in brevity of description is made up in original, outside the box, analogies to describe the “animals” which control the world.
Because of the excessive description, it appears at first that the entire story will be nothing but a manual of what the hell world includes, who the inhabitants are, and how they could theoretically be destroyed. Thankfully, the book takes a turn for the better by introducing characters that break up the large blocks of text with dialogue.
Descriptive phrases in the book will not be lost on earth’s inhabitants as the author strays from creating their own words or dialect for the original alien characters. Quite often, the description in the book is a bit unnecessary. Two paragraphs discussing a female character’s need to urinate seems out of place and hinders the story from flowing as organically as it could. Passages like that are littered throughout the story.
There are definitely some moments of light when it comes to the description. When the aliens are up close and personal with the inhabitants of the hell world, the manner in which the author describes the “animals” is well done and presents visually alarming images for the reader as the description of the removal of an infant leaves an imprint on the readers mind.
The author’s creativity comes into play by creating and establishing three different species of aliens. However, the description of these alien species and their differences are lost in the large chunks of text that make the book feel more like a stream of consciousness reading instead of a structured story.
The overall message of this book is not lost by any means. In fact, the purpose of this story is blatantly written on almost every page without apology. The author wants to show the dangers of how the inhabitants of this “hell world” are mistreating the planet that they’ve inherited. From treatment of their own species based on gender or skin color to the murdering of “lesser” animals, the author condemns most practices that the inhabitants take part in.
The promise of hope offered to the reader and the animals of the hell world is one that will not easily be forgotten.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B016UN94DE
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Nex Mexico, 1947. A spaceship crashes on Earth during an exploratory mission from Planet HG-281 and leaves behind a 12-years-old alien. His name is Whatsit and he belongs to the Chrysallamans species, gigantic lizards with extraordinary mental powers, which enable them to control the humans’ brain and ultimately destroy them. The U.S. military takes custody of the young alien during a covert operation on the site of the crash, led by Major Jim Blunt. Shortly after, in Washington, a governmental committee calls a meeting of prominent scientists to inform them of the presence on U.S. soil of the young alien and alert them of the incoming danger of an invasion of Planet Earth by the Chrysallamans. Taking into consideration that Planet HG-281 is around 30 light years from the Earth, they estimate an invasion will come in 60 years. A bright young doctor, Diane Hoffmann, comes up with the original idea of studying the DNA of extraordinary human beings in order to isolate the genes that make them special. Those genes could be then translated into a vaccine against the aliens’ mental powers. Major Blunt finds the idea brillian,t and he takes off with Hoffmann to Tibet where they will bring Whatsit to visit a teenage Dalai Lama. The Lama is able to communicate with the alien through telepathy and he reassures Blunt and Hoffmann of the alien’s good nature and gratitude towards the soldier who was taking care of him. Once taken a sample of the Lama’s DNA, the two go on to meet a strong man in Germany and then a Skullreader back in the U.S.A. in order to collect their DNA too. A dormant virus – engineered to become active at a chosen time- is eventually developed so that humans can be ready for the invasion to come sixty years later. The first to be inoculated is Major Blunt, the soldier who raised Whatsit as a son and the now husband of the brilliant scientist who synthetized the substance. A leap in time brings us to the 70s, briefly, to meet the young son of Blunt and Hoffmann, Tom, on his way to a military career. In 2014, as feared, the Chrysallamans come back and spread terror and destruction all over the world. Till they meet Tom Blunt, the brave son of Jim Blunt.
The Origin of F.O.R.C.E by Sam Miller brings 70’s sci-fi films and literature about alien invasions into the new era. Anyone who enjoys a science fiction novel for the science will definitly enjoy this book. I found the idea of DNA manipulation in the book to be novel in it’s application to the problem and well defined in it’s descriptions. There were a lot of great twists and the storyline was entertaining, which is why it was dissapointing that the characters, I felt, were underdeveloped. But a lack of in-depth character analysis is compensated by a constant flow of action. This leaves the novel feeling more like a script, but that certainly makes it a good candidate to be converted into a movie. I absolutely cannot wait to read book two Dawn of Chrysalis.
Pages: 373 | ISBN: B010T04A2O
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