Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Congrats to Jeff Chen on Ultraball: Lunar Blitz




The Kidliterati are excited to celebrate Jeff Chen's middle grade debut. 

Welcome to the game. 

Welcome to Ultraball: Lunar Blitz.




We wanted to learn more about Ultraball so we sat down with Jeff with for an exclusive interview.

What was it like writing your book on the moon?

The low gravity was disorienting at first, but you get used to just about anything. Except pooping. Man, I tell you what, it's no fun hooking up a waste recycler to your butt ... okay, I'll stop.

What's it like to play Ultraball in an Ultrabot suit?

Imagine being Superman. Except that you don't have to worry about kryptonite. And you catch speeding bullets instead of outracing them. So all in all, I'd give it a thumbs-up. I mean, it's nothing compared to the deep satisfaction of using a normal Earth toilet. There's that entire Earthfall thing, though.

How has Earthfall affected you?
The total destruction of Earth in a global nuclear war was a pretty big downer. But all the whining! Wah wah wah, the oceans are irradiated! Boo hoo, nuclear winter for millennia! The United Moon Colonies are on their own now!

Suck it up, people. Life on the moon ain't so bad. Except for the nasty hardtack bars. And the crumbling infrastructure. Not to mention the dwindling water supply.

Okay, maybe it's bad.

Do you think the Taiko Miners really have a shot at winning the Ultrabowl, after three straight defeats at the hands of the North Pole Neutrons? They kind of have your number, don't they?

Thanks for bringing up all those agonizing memories.

What's the first thing you'll do if you finally win an Ultrabowl?

I'm going to Disneyland! Oh, wait. There's that entire Earthfall thing.

Is there something seriously wrong with you? I mean, I wouldn't use the word "deranged," but ...

My poor wife and kids will probably want to weigh in here.

How many copies of Ultraball: Lunar Blitz should I buy? 100 or 1000?
If nothing else, HarperCollins prints on high-quality paper. Y'know, in case you have problems after using your waste recycler.


Congrats, Jeff!

Get your own copy of Ultraball: Lunar Blitz.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renée Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort. On her way to the palace for her nuptials her caravan gets attacked and she narrowly escapes death. In her quest to oust her assassins Mariko discovers a horrible side to the politics of the world as she knows it.

This immersive and engrossing read will grab your attention from the first chapter. You will find yourself rooting for so many of the characters because they all have their personal goals and motives that often times will cross paths.

I love how the author layered the stakes in the story in perfect tandem with the main characters' growths.

Fair warning that if you enjoy this book it will leave you with a hangover, so make sure to have the second book handy so you can dive in immediately.

This is a young adult novel I know will listen to again in a near future.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Introducing Ultraball: Lunar Blitz by Jeff Chen


We are so excited about 
El Jefe's middle grade debut




Strike Sazaki loves defying gravity on the moon in his Ultrabot suit. He’s the best quarterback in the league, but while Strike’s led the Taiko Miners to the Ultrabowl three years in a row, each one has ended in defeat.

This year, Strike thinks he’s finally found the missing piece to his championship quest: a mysterious girl who could be his new star rocketback. But Boom comes from the Dark Siders, a mass of people who left the United Moon Colonies to live in exile. And not all his teammates are happy sharing a field with her.

When rumors surface of a traitor on the Miners, Strike isn’t sure who he can trust. If Strike can’t get his teammates to cooperate and play together, they’ll lose more than just the Ultrabowl. The stake of the colony’s future is on his shoulders. 

Jeff's book, Ultraball: Lunar Blitz, will be available 
on January 15th. 
In the meantime, don't miss the Goodreads giveaway.




Wednesday, January 9, 2019

K10: Bad Kitty: Puppy's Big Day by Nick Bruel

The Kidliterati Ten is an interview series with young readers. We ask them about a favorite book and hope that you enjoy their answers. Tell us a little about yourself: what is your first name, how old are you, and what is your favorite flavor of ice cream? My name is Stella. I'm 8 years old. My favorite flavor of ice cream is strawberry.
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What book did you read and why did you choose it? I read Puppy's Big Day. I picked it because I love dogs and cats.

Can you describe this book in one word? Puppies!


What was your favorite part of this story? I loved it when Uncle Murray's pants fell down, and he was wearing heart underwear!

If you had a problem similar to the main character's problem, what would you do? I would try to escape the pound!

What would you say to your best friend to convince them to read this book? It's really good, and crazy things happen in it.

What do you think about the book's cover? It's funny! I like Puppy's drool.

Would you want to read another book about these characters? Why or why not? Yes. Because Puppy and Kitty are funny together.

Can you name another book that reminds you of this one? Bad Kitty Runs for President, or any of the Bad Kitty books.

If you could ask the author one question about this book what would it be? Why did you choose to write about Puppy and Kitty?

From an interview author and illustrator Nick Bruel did in 2017: "I was at home contemplating unique titles I had never seen before. Bad Kitty came to me, and when I asked myself what a cat could do that would be so bad, I came up with so many ideas." And according to his website, Bad Kitty is modeled after a cat Mr. Bruel had as a child.

Thank you for the interview, Stella!

You can find out more about Puppy's Big Day here.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Review: Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan


Ignite the StarsIgnite the Stars by Maura Milan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars




Year 8922.

Ia Cocha: Sovereign of Dead Space, Rogue of the Fringe Planets, Blood Wolf of the Skies, the most dangerous criminal in Commonwealth history, and she’s seventeen.

Feared by all—except for maybe the refugees she’s saved in several battles across the universe, among them: the Dvvinn, the Juorti, Makolian, and the Tawnies, all refugees of the Commonwealth, and they’re discriminated against.

Student Brinn Tarver discovers the Blood Wolf is a girl just like her. Brinn hides her identity and her blue refugee hair to blend in with the Commonwealth, or risk persecution. Even if her mother doesn’t hide her blue Tawny hair anymore, Brinn isn’t ready to expose her secret. “She might be a Citizen, but that didn’t matter—the prejudice still exited.”

When Ia Cocha is captured by the Commonwealth and sentenced to fight with the Royal Star Force, she becomes Brinn’s roommate. Brinn is outraged, but soon learns they have much in common, even a brother they’d die for.

We meet Knives, head flight instructor of the Royal Star Force and son of the cruel General Adams. He carries a deep sadness and Ia Cocha is drawn to him.

Ia Cocha makes a deal with the General to set the Tawny refugees free as she fights for the RSF, where she can survey the entire space academy, its uranium core, and send blueprints to her brother while awaiting rescue. But things don’t go as planned, and Ia has to accept the harm she’s brought to others.

Written from three POV’s, this book is fast paced—you’ll rip through the All Black, view the stars and spaceships—and Ia Cocha is a force to be reckoned with, so is Brinn, both fierce women with death-defying skills. Some of the best action scenes I’ve read, and with its outstanding pace and gripping tension, you’ll fly through this book. There are protests, propaganda, and The Sanctuary Act. The plight of the Commonwealth refugees, as they fight for justice, and a home, parallels the struggle refugees face today.





View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

El Jefe's Top Tier Books of 2018

Alas, 2018 was the year that my streak of reading 100+ books came to an end. Seven straight years! Oh well. Now I don't have to pad my numbers with comic books anymore.

NOT THAT I WOULD DO THAT!

Okay, maybe I would.

AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH COMIC BOOKS!

Books I've read this year: 80
Books that made my Top Tier: 6

Here are those six incredible books:


Middle Grade

 THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE

I was rooting so hard for Ada, a girl with a clubfoot growing up in wartime England. She's so matter-of-fact about the life she lives, shut up in her dingy house by a mother who's not just embarrassed by her, but doesn't want her.

Then she and her brother get relocated to the country, safe away from the anticipated bombing. Life gets easier for her in some ways, and harder in others.

Such a powerful experience to follow this little girl, watching her persevere! No wonder it was a Newbery Honor book in 2016.


Young Adult

'
DUMPLIN'

Just look at that cover! Willowdean Dixon calls herself a fat girl--not in a self-deprecating or apologetic way. It's just what it is. The fact that her mom is a former beauty pageant queen ... talk about a recipe for tension.

This could have easily gone into cookie-cutter territory, Willowdean entering the big beauty pageant to make a point. But it turned out to be so much more.

Wonderfully crafted story, and one of the more memorable characters from this year.





TELL ME THREE THINGS

It's hard to move to a new city, a new high school -- especially when the reason for it is that your dad suddenly remarried without telling you.

But somebody tries to make Jessie's transition a bit easier through friendly, anonymous emails -- Somebody/Nobody, that is. A secret admirer? A spirit guide? Hard to tell who it is or how they know Jessie.

A beautiful portrayal of a teen going through a painful time in her life. The mystery of Who Is Somebody/Nobody kept me gripped!


EVERY DAY

I'll admit, the notion of a person waking up every day in a different body, taking control of it for 24 hours, then moving to the next person, felt contrived at first. Thank goodness I stuck with it!

A (just A, an aptly simple name) is forced to wander through life in this horrible process, never getting to form connections with anyone -- until he/she inhabits the body of Rhiannon's boyfriend.

That one day, something changes, as A sees something within Rhiannon, allows suppressed emotions to emerge. That leads to a day like no other. Getting back to Rhiannon, doing anything possible in order to just get a glimpse of her -- made for a compelling read.


Adult

ONE OF US IS LYING

A whodunit, featuring four main suspects, each of whom is hiding a giant secret.

Warning: I spent many an hour sitting in my car, listening to the audiobook, when I was supposed to be working. This could easily happen to you.

Fantastic characters, a superb plot, and what a mystery. Probably my favorite book this year.


RED RISING

Like Game of Thrones? The Martian? The Hunger Games? This one's for you!

I had qualms about putting this one on my Top Tier list, because it's so dang bloody. Violent. Gory. Murderous. There's severe torture. Assault. If you're at all squeamish about that sort of thing, don't pick it up.

But if you're looking for a thriller full of war games, this one is for you.








Best wishes for a great 2019 -- I'm already on the lookout for my first new Top Tier book!

P.S. In case you want more book recs, here are my Top Tier lists from 2017201620152014, and 2013. Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

K10: SMILE by Raina Telgemeier

The Kidliterati Ten is an interview series with young readers. We ask them about a favorite book and hope that you enjoy their answers. Tell us a little about yourself: what is your first name, how old are you, and what is your favorite flavor of ice cream? My name is Eva. I'm 7 years old, and my favorite ice cream is vanilla!
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What book did you read and why did you choose it?
 I read Smile because Raina [the main character] got braces.

Can you describe this book in one word? Funny.



What was your favorite part of this story? When she had to visit the dentist -- he was really funny!

If you had a problem similar to the main character's problem, what would you do? I would ask my parents to take me to the orthodontist.

What would you say to your best friend to convince them to read this book? I would say that the pictures are cool and it's really funny.

What do you think about the book's cover? I like the braces! And the blue background.

Would you want to read another book about these characters? Why or why not? Yes. I read Sisters, which is about the same people.

Can you name another book that reminds you of this one? Sisters! In that one, they go on a trip in a van.

If you could ask the author one question about this book what would it be? How old were you when you wrote the book?

Raina Telgemeier was in her early thirties when she wrote Smile.

Thank you for the interview, Eva!

You can find out more about Smile here.

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