Tag Archives: viking children’s

ARC Review – The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier & Doug Holgate

24611765Title: The Last Kids on Earth

Author: Max Brallier & Doug Holgate

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Ever since the monster apocalypse hit town, average thirteen year old Jack Sullivan has been living in his tree house, which he’s armed to the teeth with catapults and a moat, not to mention video games and an endless supply of Oreos and Mountain Dew scavenged from abandoned stores. But Jack alone is no match for the hoards of Zombies and Winged Wretches and Vine Thingies, and especially not for the eerily intelligent monster known only as Blarg. So Jack builds a team: his dorky best friend, Quint; the reformed middle school bully, Dirk; Jack’s loyal pet monster, Rover; and Jack’s crush, June. With their help, Jack is going to slay Blarg, achieve the ultimate Feat of Apocalyptic Success, and be average no longer! Can he do it? 

Huge thank you to Penguin Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I am really enjoying all these new middle grade novels that integrate illustrations as a huge part of the narrative. It really helps to capture the story, characters, and it adds to the immersion level. The Last Kids On Earth is an absolutely hilarious adventure of children attempting to survive a post apocalyptic world. Think of it as a child-friendly version of Zombieland (the film) and that is this book.

The story itself is absolutely hilarious. Jack, along with Quint, Dirk and June, must survive zombies, monsters, and other unique creatures. Their city has gone to crap, and yet they prove that there are unique ways to be resourceful. Jack is a fun protagonist — he’s spirited, goofy, and he tries to be a tough guy. He’s kind of a wuss, but a lovable one. Sadly, he wasn’t my favourite character as that was reserved for June, who I wish had been a larger part of the story. I love that she calls Jack out on trying to damsel her, I love how kick butt she is, unafraid, fearless, and she makes everything look so easy. It’s what makes her a great foil to the three boys, particularly Jack.

The artwork, while it’s only sketches in the ARC is still fantastic to look at. Douglas Holgate’s art really enhances the story, giving it a more comic book like quality in the vein of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, though I’d argue these kids could totally kick Greg’s butt. Holgate’s art does an amazing job of enhancing the story, especially in its humorous moments. And believe me, there’s a lot of humour.

This book is SO MUCH FUN, and it does an amazing job of poking fun at the zombie genre, making accessible to younger audiences without making it gory or scary for younger readers. Furthermore, this book is going to be a hit with middle graders, especially those who love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series or similar. I think it will get the attention of the reluctant readers out there because it’s charming, hilarious, and action-oriented. I am eagerly looking forward to the promised sequel, as I think Max Brallier and Douglas Holigate are a match made in heaven.

ARC Review – Mosquitoland by David Arnold

21921204Title: Mosquitoland

Author: David Arnold

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland. So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, “Mosquitoland” is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

Huge thank you to Penguin Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

There is something quirky and endearing about Mim Malone. She’s absolutely bonkers, her level of trust for people is at an all time low, she is easily attached to things, and all she really wants is her own place in the world. Mim is one of those unforgettable characters who whether you like her or not, doesn’t stray from one’s mind.

Mosquitoland is a page-turner, and there’s something to be said about what is actually happening on the pages versus what makes it a real page turner. This is not in a lot of ways, a plot driven story, which usually makes up an awesome page turner. This book really is a character study and does it in all the right ways. Mim’s losses, the devastating changes in her life, the decisions people have made for her, all instantly connect the reader to her world the people around her. The characters that Mim encounter on her journey are also truly unforgettable, I had a love for creepy Poncho Man, if only because Mim reminded me of Spike from Cowboy Bebop in that instance.

Mim in a lot of ways is one of those problematic characters who gives the reader a lot to contemplate as they are reading. The road trip in this novel is highly entertaining as it is tragic — there’s a lot of unexpected feels in this book, despite it’s overall humourous tone.

There is one problematic element that many readers of the book have brought up and it was the representation of natives and I can agree with that sentiment, because any time Mim brought up her war paint, it made me slightly uncomfortable. On the other hand, I don’t think there was a malicious intent on the author’s part to make readers uncomfortable in that aspect, but at the same time how it in included can be seen as an issue. I won’t go into the spoiler aspects of this, but as a reader you can decide if this aspect bothers you or not. I was uncomfortable, admittedly, but it didn’t ruin my experience with the book on a whole.

Mosquitoland is a fun, crazy, whirlwind that keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end. The book will take you on a ride that is both insane and thoughtful. Every time Mim Malone reminds the reader she ‘is not okay’, a part of me felt as though we were connected — that I could help make it okay (even though yes, it’s a book, I get that). However, you want Mim and those around her to work things out, become better, and ultimately this book is about identity, but also letting go of the past and trying to build a better future. I loved my time with this book, and it’s one worth checking out when it releases, especially if you are a lover of quirky, awkward characters!

River’s Quickie Reviews! #2

13438572Title: Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho (October 9th 2014 by Viking Children’s)

Synopsis: What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

River’s Review: Jesus H. Christ that book was like a kick in the stomach. I don’t remember the last time I related to a book THIS STRONGLY. Change the characters names, New York to Japan, and this is my story plus-minus a few things. God I want to cry now.

Also the writing is fucking amazing. AMAZING. This is the type of story that makes you feel nostalgic for the life you wish you’d had (or did have and left behind).

I am so happy I read this. Even if I do feel like crying. – 5/5 Stars


16005219Title: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil (September 16th 2014 by Balzer & Bray)

Synopsis: The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

River’s Review: NEXT BOOK PLEASE! Wow, I flew through this. Totally loved it. There were a lot of characters so sometimes it was difficult to keep track of whos-who, but overall I really enjoyed everything about this! The tension was tight, the mystery kept me guessing (and I’m STILL guessing because it doesn’t get solved in this book, omg need the next one now!) and the romance was juuuuust enough. I really liked all of the girls, their friendship and dynamics, the setting… everything! And omg all of the Star Wars quotes. Amazing. – 4.5/5 Stars

Huge thank you to Balzer + Bray, Viking Children’s, and Edelweiss for these ARCs!