Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Balance Keepers trilogy by Lindsay Cummings

Synopsis for The Fires of Calderon:
The first book in an epic middle grade fantasy adventure series that takes place in an underground society at the center of the earth. Packed with action, humor, magic, and mystery.

After following a mysterious map into the woods and then under the woods, eleven-year-old Albert Flynn learns he’s a Balance Keeper—someone with special magical skills for fixing problems in three underground Realms at the Core of the earth. His new job is important; if the realms fall out of balance, the world above could be in great danger.

Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy arrive in the Core not a moment too soon. There’s an Imbalance in the Calderon Realm and it’s threatening to bury Albert’s hometown of New York City in a mountain of ash.

The three must train hard completing mental and physical challenges, but above all, they must harness the power of their Tiles—unique superpowers given to each Balance Keeper. So far, Albert’s mastered the art of not mastering his Tile....

With the situation in Calderon growing worse every day, can Albert, Leroy, and Birdie restore balance before New York is destroyed forever? Will Albert master his Tile before it’s too late?

Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, The Unwanteds, and the classic Journey to the Center of the Earth.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

Synopsis for The Pillars of Ponderay:
Albert Flynn is psyched to return to the Core, the magical world at the center of the earth where Balance Keepers fix problems in three underground Realms. Last term, Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy saved New York by fixing the Calderon Realm and were crowned First Unit, aka the Coolest Kids in the Core.

Now Albert and his teammates have been called to the Core for an emergency training session…along with their archenemy, Hoyt. There’s a horrible Imbalance in the Ponderay Realm and they have only seven days before California will be swallowed by hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Worse yet, it’s rumored there’s a traitor among them who is causing all this chaos. 

Will Albert, Leroy, and Birdie discover who’s been putting the Core—and the world above—in danger? Can they save Ponderay before California becomes an underwater wasteland forever?

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

Synopsis for The Traitor of Belltroll:
Albert and his Balance Keepers teammates have been called back to the Core for immediate action! There’s a serious Imbalance in the fantastical underground Realm of Belltroll, and without intervention everything from New York to Yellowstone above could be swallowed by earthquakes. It’s clear the mysterious traitor who caused last term’s chaos is at it again, and with a vengeance.

Albert’s super-magical Master Tile helped fix the Ponderay and Calderon Realms in previous terms, but now it seems the Tile may be more trouble than it’s worth. Because if it’s Albert’s Tile the traitor is after, there will have to be a battle sooner or later, and only one of them can win…

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
I'd heard great things about Lindsay Cumming's The Murder Complex duology. I hadn't heard many things about her Balance Keepers trilogy, but I had been wanting to read a lot of middle grade fantasy books lately, so I figured I'd try it before The Murder Complex. I ended up loving it. In fact, I loved it so much that I read the entire trilogy in two days, which is no easy feat considering the size of the books.

I loved everything about The Balance Keepers trilogy. I can't think of one thing I disliked about it. It reminded me of Harry Potter, combined with parts of Ender's Game, and brought back a lot of nostalgic feelings for both series. I loved how fast paced the series was. There was never a single moment where I was bored, or wanted to put the book down. It was interesting to see how the main characters used their resources to solve the problems in the realms. There were some that I didn't think they were going to be able to solve, but they did in surprising, and shocking ways.

I loved each and every one of the characters. I don't think i could pick a favorite if I tried. Each one of them had something unique to bring into the trilogy. The three main characters reminded me a bit of Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the Harry Potter series. Even though I didn't like him at first, I even ended up liking Hoyt. He might be a jerk at first, but in the end, he redeemed himself, and became one of my favorite characters.

I was not prepared for this trilogy to end. As I turned the last few pages of The Traitor of Belltroll, it felt like I was losing a home, and a friend. I really hope that Lindsay Cummings writes a spin off series. Maybe she could write one where the main characters are older, and making their decision about whether to live there all the time. However, I'd be happy with any sort of spin off series in this world. I'm not above begging, pleading, and groveling to make this happen. This will definitely be a series I buy physical copies of, read multiple times, and probably read to the children in my life. I'm more than slightly addicted to this trilogy. I really do wish more people would read it.

I give The Balance Keepers trilogy: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?

I received this trilogy from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fe-Lines by Norman R. Shapiro

The French have long had a love affair with the cat, expressed through centuries of poetry portraying the animal's wit and wonder. Norman R. Shapiro lionizes the felines' limitless allure in this one-of-a-kind collection. Spanning centuries and styles, he draws on she-cats and toms, and an honor roll of French poets, well known and lesser known, who have served as their devoted champions. He reveals the remarkable range of French cat poems, with most works presented here for the first time in English translation. Scrupulously devoted to evoking the meaning and music of the originals, Shapiro also respects the works' formal structures. Pairing his translations with Olga Pastuchiv's elegant illustrations, Fe-Lines guides the reader through the marvels and inscrutabilities of the Mystique féline.
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
For those of you that have been around since I started book reviewing, you know I love books about cats. I will read any genre, even genres I usually don't like, if I find a book in the genre about cats. Typically, I don't road poetry. In fact, before now, I think the last time I read poetry was when I read the Shel Silverstein books when I was a kid. It's just not one of those genres I enjoy. However, when I saw a book of poems about cats, Fe-Lines, for request on NetGalley, I wanted to read it badly. Unfortunately, I ended up disappointed. 

I was hoping that I would be able to identify with Fe-Lines, and that it would make me laugh. In actuality, I was extremely bored. I found the whole book to be tedious. In fact, towards the end of the book, I found myself skimming through the poems, just to be done with the book. The only reason why I chose to give the book two stars instead of one is that I liked the illustrations. Most of them were adorable, and fit well with the poems. That was the only thing I found enjoyable throughout the whole experience.

Based on my reaction to Fe-Lines, maybe poetry isn't my thing after all. I think it will be quite some time before I pick up a book of poetry, and try it again. The book didn't give me that joyful feeling I usually feel when I read books about cats, and stumble across a quirk that I can identify with, because I've seen my cat do the same thing. If you like poetry, I would recommend at least trying this book. However, don't go into it with high expectations.

I give Fe-Lines: 2/5.

Want to know more about the author?

I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.