Monday, September 5, 2011

The Resisters by Eric Nylund

Author Eric Nylund knows how to write an exciting, action-packed science fiction story - he is the author of the popular Halo books based on the video game. The Resisters is his first book in a new series for younger readers.

Twelve-year-old Ethan thinks his life is good. His team is competing for the state soccer championship, he is working hard to get in the best high school and he knows what he wants to do when he is an adult - be an astronaut. Of course, his team doesn't exactly play soccer the way we do. They wear 600 pound, nuclear-powered exoskeleton athletic suits that let them play a truly powerful game.

But then Ethan meets a couple of slightly strange kids - Madison and Felix - who tell him that things are not what they appear to be. Their story is that Earth was taken over by aliens about 50 years ago and that these aliens hold all adults in their mind control. Yeah, right. But as soon as Ethan sees the battle bug robot suits, he begins to wonder. The resistance groups that fights against the aliens need kids, since their minds are free of the alien influence.

Will Ethan join the resisters? Hang on - this is an exciting, fast-paced science fiction story.

The Dragon of Cripple Creek by Troy Howell

Cripple Creek, Colorado is a real, historic gold mining town. Today it is a tourist attraction where you can go down into the old Mollie Kathleen gold mine. This is the very same mine that Kat Graham and her family visit when they stop by Cripple Creek.

Who knew that the last living dragon in the whole world was hiding down an old forgotten tunnel? But we should have suspected, because dragons hoard gold . . .

Things hadn't been going well for Kat, her brother and father. Money was very tight since her dad had lost his job. The family was on the way to a new job and and new start when they stopped by Cripple Creek. But after Kat got lost in the mine and stumbled on the ancient dragon called Ye, things would never be the same. Ye saved her life and Kat knew she shouldn't do it, but she stole a small nugget of gold from the old dragon. Later she felt very guilty but before she could return it safely, other people saw it. The television reports went crazy, sparking a modern day gold rush. What would happen to the kindly Ye when he was captured? Kat has to protect him, but how?

The Dragon of Cripple Creek is not a typical fantasy story. Everything about it's setting, characters, and plot is very realistic - except for that dragon. Somehow that makes this story very believable! Why don't you just watch this interview with Kat and make your own mind up.

The Dragon of Cripple Creek - Book Trailer from Timothy Ryan Poe on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wild Life by Cynthia DeFelice

On the day that twelve-year old Erik Carlson passed his Hunter Safety course, his life changed dramatically. Instead of going hunting with his best friend, Erik learned that his parents, who were both in the Army Reserve, were being deployed to Iraq. Erik was sent to stay with his grandparents in North Dakota. Erik had never been to North Dakota and he hadn't seen his grandparents since he was three-years-old. Now he was flying there alone, unhappy, and slightly scared.

When Erik arrives his grandfather, Big Darrell, seems very angry at something and he doesn't treat Erik with any love or warmth. Upstairs in the house, there is a mysterious, locked bedroom that he is forbidden to enter. Things change when Erik finds a lost and injured bird dog that needs his help. The poor dog has been attacked by a porcupine. Erik and a local veterinarian remove the quills and treat the dog. Big Darrell says the dog can only stay one night but Erik can't bear to give her up.

So Erik and Quill, as he has named the dog, decides to run away from the farm to the surrounding prairie. Looking for supplies he enters the closed bedroom, discovering that it belonged to his grandparents' son, who was a soldier killed in action. Erik takes the shotgun he finds there and he and Quill set off. Erik is determined to life off the land but he is not quite prepared for all the dangers and weather he and Quill find.

Wild Life is a very powerful story about a boy and his family caught up in loss, grief and sacrifice for their country. This is a situation faced by many military families today. The author, Cynthia DeFelice, has written a great adventure story of a boy and a dog; but also reminds us of the challenges faced by soldiers and their families.

Around the World in 100 Days by Gary Blackwood

You might be familiar with the famous story Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. The main character, Phileas Fogg, was challenged to travel around the entire world in 80 days or less. Today we could fly around the world in less than two hours on the space shuttle, but in 1873, Fogg had to use railroads, ships and the Suez Canal.

This story begins in 1891, when Harry Fogg, son of the famous adventurer and traveler, also accepts a bet. Harry and his good friend, Johnny Shaugnessey, have built their very own steam-powered automobile called The Flash. Harry's father keeps hoping his son will get serious about his future and stop fooling around with ridiculous ideas like motorcars. But Phileas backs his son when members of his Gentleman's Club make fun of Harry when he insists that automobiles are the future of transportation. Soon Harry and Johnny set off on their own around the world journey, accompanied by two other young adults: Charles, who is supposed to serve as an impartial observer but is really a spoiled brat and the mysterious Elizabeth, who wants to prove herself as a journalist. They are allowed to put The Flash on a ship to cross oceans but otherwise they have to drive the car across all continents. Not only must they deal with the natural obstacles, bandits and other dangers they encounter, but someone is also trying to sabotage their attempt.

Author Gary Blackwood was inspired to write this story by a real event - the Great Auto Race of 1908. After researching and writing a nonfiction book about this famous race, he began to imagine a similar fictional story. Around the World in 100 Days is an exciting historical adventure story, spiced with humor and colorful characters.