Sunday, April 14, 2013

Great Kids Book Series That Keep Getting Better

This week I am focusing on round two, the second installment in a book series.  So often I fall in love with a new story, only to be dissapointed with the next segment in the narrative.  But not this week.  Three stories that I loved from the start now have new extensions to their stories and they are good, so good in fact that a few I like better than the originals!

The Quick Fix I profiled a few weeks ago, but it seemed so appropriate for this post I decided to post it again in case you missed it.  So please take a look at these wonderful series.  I can say without hesitation that if your kids like the first book, they'll love the second!

Title:       The Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophe 

Author:   Brandon Mull

Target:    Grades 5-8

Series:     Yes. The first book is The Candy Shop War.

What this book is about:
In this sequel to The Candy Shop War, friends Nate, Summer, Trevor and Pigeon are thrust again into magical mayhem.  This time a wizard is using the games at Arcadeland to recruit kids to become part of his private clubs.  They earn stamps that allow them to fly, swim indefinitely, run at great speed or be almost invincible.  These clubs then compete to acquire certain objects that will help the wizard gain more power.  Can our friends infiltrate these clubs and stop the wizard from obtaining magic that will allow him to control the world?

Why I love this book:
I have to say that while I enjoyed the first book, I did think that the second book was even better.  In the first book, the kids are wrestling with some fairly difficult moral choices, which made it dark at times.  In the second book, their actions are less morally weighted, and Mull provides a lot of non stop action.

I also quite liked the arcade theme.  The kids working towards prizes, and the teams competing was very relatable and fun so I think kids will definitely be turned on by the premise.  The magic was also used very effectively to move the story forward.

Who this book is for:
This book is 426 pages, which is quite a lot of story.  Kids have to be able to digest a book that size, which is why I have targeted it to an older audience.  I would also recommend reading The Candy Shop Wars first, but you could get away with not reading them in order.

Final thoughts:
The first book was originally intended as a stand alone, but I am so pleased that Brandon Mull didn’t stop there.  It even feels as though he has kept the door open for a third installment, so I will be patiently waiting ..... ok, maybe not so patiently!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Candy Shop War, Book 2: Arcade Catastrophe  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:       The Runaway King

Author:   Jennifer A. Nielsen

Target:    Grades 4-8

Series:     Yes, this is the second book in a trilogy which began with The False Prince

What this book is about:
Well we find Jaron/Sage is now on the throne of Carthya, but things are not going well.  In the first chapter there is already an assassination attempt on his life, as he realizes that strong forces from beyond are trying to take down his kingdom.  He must face the pirates who are set on invading, but the only way to get close to them is to leave the throne and take on his old identity, Sage.  No ones leaves the pirates alive, so Sage will either have to convince them to stop this war or die trying.

Why I love this book:
Nielsen has done it again.  An edge of your seat adventure that had me wondering at every turn how Jaron/Sage would get out of this one.  I worried that in a second installment the action would in fact, stall.  But this second book still had me riveted.  I will say that some of the twists seemed a bit contrived, but it is such a fun story that I could easily overlook that.

As always, Jaron/Sage is such a wonderfully written character.  I will say again that he reminds me of a teenage Hans Solo, full of confidence, swagger and just the right amount of intelligent sarcasm.  He must be a wonderful character to write because his words and actions truly make this book a winner.

Who this book is for:
Great for kids who like action, adventure and some brash but intelligent humor!

Final thoughts:
Oh, Jennifer Nielsen, why must you make us wait a whole year to find out the fate of Jaron/Sage and Carthya?  You are an evil woman.

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Runaway King: Book 2 of the Ascendance Trilogy  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:       The Quick Fix

Author:   Jack D. Ferraiolo

Target:    Grades 5-8

Series:     Yes. The first book is The Big Splash.

What this book is about:
The book is a sequel to Ferraiolo’s first book, The Big Splash.  We are taken back to Franklin Middle School, otherwise known as “the Frank.”  Matt, our resident detective and good guy is still dealing with Vinny Biggs, who runs the dirty dealings at the school: access to hall passes, test answers, and contraband sweets.  When Matt takes the case of a lovely blond cheerleader who is concerned when her boyfriend asks her to hold a piece of wood - no question asked, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. 

Why I love this book:
Ferraiolo has done it again.  His books embody the old time detective with swagger and a heart of gold who helps the dame in trouble, but our detective is in for more than he bargained for.  Ferraiolo manages to accomplish this mood while keeping the subject matter fresh and current.  A great combination.  

I actually enjoyed the sequel more than  the original book, because the original story had some moments when kids were actually being quite unkind to each other, and it made me feel uncomfortable.  However, rest assured, the message in these books is always positive, where looking out for the underdog and doing the right thing is the best course of action.

Who this book is for:
While you don’t have to read the first book, it does help because many of the original characters resurface in The Quick Fix, and you will enjoy the story more if you understand their history in the narrative.  This book will be a fun ride for most kids.

Final thoughts:
The dialogue is sharp and funny, with all the retorts I wish I could think of spur of the moment.

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Quick Fix (Big Splash)  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

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