Saturday, May 25, 2024

I Hate It When Aliens Do That by Mark Cheverton

Happy Saturday! I just want to give everyone a heads-up that my posts are going to be a bit irregular the next days...although I'm going to try my best to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Our internet is down and won't be repaired until (earliest) end of next week...some fools climbed the poles and removed the wire (to sell the copper inside). This seems to be a problem in our area (rural) right now, and the companies have now decided to bury the lines instead. Which will take time (sigh). 

So, I'm taking runs into town, sitting at the local fast food places, and doing my best to hang in there until things are up and running again.

by Mark Cheverton
Middle Grade Science Fiction
198 pages
ages 8 to 12

New York Times Bestselling author of 28 novels...


Jimmy Turkelson, a relatively insignificant and always scared seventh grader, spends his days at Tower Middle School evading bullies and trying to avoid notice; a mouse hiding in the shadows when everyone feels like a cat. But when the Zanthoid spaceship lands outside his school, everything changes. It is the first wave of the attack. The aliens are invading so they can take every drop of water from Earth. Those who survive the unwinnable war will be left to perish on a barren wasteland after the Zanthoids finish stripping the planet of its resources. Only Jimmy, a collection of unusual friends, and a friendly alien named Gorgalsheef stand between the Zanthoid Empire and the destruction of Humanity. But when Jimmy comes face-to-face with the vicious alien commander, Kralwak, will he coward and run away, as Jimmy usually does, or will he stand and fight to save the world?




Aliens attacking the world is more than serious business, but even high stakes can be accompanied with giggles galore.

Jimmy is twelve-years-old and not exactly the most popular kid at school, but he does have a great fantasy and is determined to protect his eight-year-old sister no matter what…well, his mom would kill him if he didn’t, so that may not count. When a strange object falls from the sky and crashes into a lake near the school, odd things start happening.  The adults are acting more than strange, and his own teacher is rounding up all the kids together into rooms. Maybe, to cook them? After all, it is an alien invasion! It’s his job to save the world. Now, he just needs to figure out how and that with a rag-tag group of kids and an alien-escapee, and that while protecting his sister.

Imagination shifts into hyper-drive in this slightly ridiculous and oh-so-fast-paced read about a very unexpected alien invasion. The first pages/prologue set the tone as Jimmy introduces himself directly to the reader. He reveals that he’s in prison and gives a tiny bit of background to the entire situation. Then, the first chapter heads back in time and allows the reader to get a handle on Jimmy’s home and school life right before the aliens first land. There is a bit cliché introduction with Jimmy as the odd kid, who faces bullying and other school troubles, but that’s also where cliché ends.  

More than a few aliens are involved in the invasion, and each has its own appearance and qualities. There is a simple illustration of each alien as it appears in the story. These carry originality and hold a slightly humorous twist. This matches nicely to the tale’s atmosphere. While Jimmy and his friends face one unexpected moment after the other, every moment is also fun with quirky reactions and witty dialogue.

There are a few messages surrounding friendship, bullies, and pushing past one’s own comfort zone, but this read is mostly about fun.

Note: The flip-book is found only in the paper/hard copies of this novel. Ebook copies do include a link for those who want to see it...just digitally.

Friday, May 24, 2024

The Official Cursed Princess Club by LambCat


By LambCat
Webtoon Entertainment
Young Adult Coloring Book
96 pages

JULY 9th!!!

Color your favorite moments from the popular WEBTOON Originals Cursed Princess Club series in this uniquely designed book featuring the original full-color art as inspiration for each coloring page.
The Official Cursed Princess Club Coloring Book offers you a chance to experience the captivating and hilarious world of Cursed Princess Club in an inspiring new way. Each page has been thoughtfully crafted to capture the essence of the series, allowing you to engage interactively with your favorite characters and scenes. This distinctive coloring book features:  
  • A carefully curated set of 46 coloring pages, featuring the unconventional princess Gwendolyn, her fellow princesses, supporting characters, and the series’ most beloved and talked-about moments.
  • A unique format, with the original full-color artwork on the left, showcasing the vibrant and evocative scenes as depicted in the series, and the uncolored line art on the right, awaiting your artistic touch.
  • Premium paper that ensures a satisfying coloring experience; allows you to color using markers, gel pens, colored pencils, crayons, and more; and preserves your artistic expressions for years to come.
Each page is a new opportunity to celebrate the essence of Cursed Princess Club and express your creativity in a tangible and personal way, bringing the world of Cursed Princess Club to life with your own choice of colors.
Whether you’re an ardent fan of the series or are simply seeking a delightful coloring journey, 
The Official Cursed Princess Club Coloring Book is a perfect addition to your collection.



This book is definitely one for Cursed Princess Club fans. The graphics and tales behind some of them are more than clear to those who have already dived into the novels. But that doesn't mean that these are all pulled right out of the novels, either. While the scenes and backstories will pop-up in fans' minds, there are original settings which play on the personalities of the characters. It's a fun way to sink in and enjoy the personalities...a great fandom experience.

There are 46 images in total. A fully colored version is presented on the left side of each two-page spread, and then, the same image is shown on the left side but with just the lines. The images allow for simple coloring or for the fantasy to flow freely. 

It's an enjoyable book, and the only drawback is that non-knowers will feel a bit disconnected. But for fans, it's quite cute.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Alterations by Ray Xu

According to my reading pile, this must be graphic novel month. While I've already had half-a-dozen the last weeks, I'm not done yet. Today's read is one for the middle grade audience, released already in January, and takes a contemporary twist. While the blurb promises middle school drama, the cover makes me wonder how much adventure will be thrown in, too. Only way to find out is to open it up and read, I guess. So, here we go!

by Ray Xu
Union Square Kids
Middle Grade Contemporary  /  Graphic Novel
240 pages
ages 8 to 12

For fans of Gene Luen Yang’s  American Born Chinese  and Svetlana Chmakova’s   Awkward , this funny yet poignant middle-grade coming-of-age story highlights the struggle of feeling invisible while yearning to be seen by all. 
Kevin Lee is having a really bad week. Although he lives in a crowded Toronto apartment above the family’s alterations and dry-cleaning store, he mostly goes unnoticed. School isn’t exactly an oasis either—being one of the few Asian kids makes for some unwelcome attention. But when Kevin’s class plans a trip to Thrill Planet, a spectacular theme park, will he finally have a chance to turn his life around, or will it just be another day for Kevin Lee?

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Middle school mixes with problems such as divorce, first crushes, and century eggs to form a balance between giggles and heart.

Kevin Lee's life has been turned upside down since his parents divorced and his father left the city. Now, his mother is working overtime in her alterations shop to make ends meet. Kevin is forced to help out both in the house and with sewing buttons, but he'd rather just read his comic books. His older sister is an awesome support (even when she's irritating), and then, there's Popo, his odd, ancient grandmother, who is so traditional, it's weird. School isn't any better thanks to all sorts of misunderstandings, which leaves him as the strange kid. While comics offer an escape, it's the upcoming trip to a theme park, which might give the relief he needs...if it isn't as doomed as the rest of his life.

This book tackles quite a few tough problems many middle graders face, while weaving in a touch of science fiction and humor to make it an exciting and enjoyable read. Kevin is a kid, who just wishes everything were easier. His father's disappearance from their lives has left a mark, which isn't an lot to deal with. While Kevin's family is very supportive and caring, they are all under stress as they try to come to terms with everything. The mother works over-hours, which adds a familiar strain kids can identify with, especially since that means picking up some of the slack at home which would, otherwise, be used for free time. Kevin's attitude is very understandable as realizes why things are the way they are but still isn't happy about it and rebels to a certain extent. It makes him human and easy to identify with, since many readers will recognize similar situations from their own lives.

The graphics are well done, and the text balances nicely with each one. There are side-thoughts, settings, comments and such in square text boxes, while the speech appears in bubbles to keep everything clear. The illustrations especially work nicely as Kevin switches to his comic/fantasy thoughts, and it's this which offers the fun side to balance out the more serious issues on the life end. But even in the 'real life', there's enough lightness to keep the problems from growing to heavy...and especially Popo comes across nicely.

It's a packed book in many ways, never invites boredom, and stays entertaining the entire way through.

And here he is...

RAY XU is a Toronto-based story artist and animator for television and feature films. His recent work includes the 2021 Netflix animated hit The Mitchells vs. The Machines; DreamWorks’ Captain Underpants movie; and more. He invites you to visit him online at

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

No Malto Left Behind by Ryder Windham

Today's read hit the shelves a couple weeks ago and is the latest in the EarthSpark - Transformers series as seen on Nickelodeon. I did review the first one in the series last year (here) and enjoyed it enough to be curious to take a look at this addition...although I do believe one or two more have come out in the mean time. 

It's a chapter book for those readers, who are sure enough of their words to head into exciting tales but need quite a bit more practice before heading into full-blown novels. 

by Ryder Windham
Illustrated by Patrick Spaziante
Simon Spotlight
Chapter Book
64 pages
ages 4 to 8

Transformers: EarthSpark is a kids animated series from Nickelodeon and Hasbro introducing the first Transformers bots to be born on Earth, streaming on Paramount+!

Robby and Mo get themselves into trouble while Dot, Bumblebee, and their Terran siblings are out on a secret mission in this action-packed chapter book featuring an all-new original story based on Transformers: EarthSpark!

Robby and Mo are super bummed—their Terran siblings are going on a top-secret undercover mission with Bumblebee, but they have to stay behind to finish a book report. Even though they are stuck at home, Robby and Mo decide to make their day a lot more interesting with a little help from Nightshade’s Smart Trainer 5008. But when the Smart Trainer spins out of control, Robby and Mo must think about what responsibility really means. Since they got themselves into trouble, can they find a way out on their own?

AMAZON    /     GOODREADS      /      B&N     /     BOOKSHOP


Action and tension drive every page forward, while a sense of family and friends offer the needed platform true heroes thrive on.

The team has received a mission, and while the transformers and older Terran siblings are off to catch an enemy, Robby and Mo are stuck at home to finish up their homework. It isn't fair, since missions are rare and the two really want to join the fun. To hurry things along, they decide to use one of Nightshade's inventions to assist with the homework, but they don't expect it to turn on them! Meanwhile, the rest of the team has lost track of the enemy...and it might be headed right to the farm where Robby and Mo are already dealing with more than the can almost handle.

While the beloved transformers start off and end this read, it centers more on Robby and Mo as they get themselves into some pretty sticky situations. Action fans will enjoy the blasts, high tension, and danger as the siblings personally battle lasers and more...and all of this in ways which still slide in with a level fitting to the intended age group. To round things off, there's a wonderful sense of family, teamwork, coming-to-aide, and support. 

The text does push readers to expand their vocabulary. Thanks to the theme and plot, readers are engaged and will be willing to work through the few more difficult words to see what happens next. The text is also in a large font for easier reading purposes. I was surprised at the length of several of the paragraphs, but thanks to the shorter word amount on each page, this shouldn't be overwhelming. The illustrations found on every page not only keep the text from growing overwhelming but follow the story to help support each scene. 

Not only does the action make this fun, but the family and friend aspect offers a wholesome background. Robby and Mo do make mistakes but aren't chastised much. Rather, it's the learned wisdom which is focused on. This is definitely a nice choice for Transformer fans and those who enjoy a little more action.

And here they are...

Ryder Windham is a science fiction author who has written over sixty Star Wars books as well as titles for the Indiana Jones and Transformers franchises.

Patrick Spaziante is an American comic book artist and children’s book illustrator known for his work for Archie Comics, in particular his interior pencil and cover work for Sonic the HedgehogSonic X, and Sonic Universe.

Monday, May 20, 2024

I Cannot Draw a Bicycle by Charise Mericle Harper

Today's read partners up with another book, I Cannot Draw A Horse, which appeared in 2022 (you can read my review on that one here). Since I did enjoy that one quite a bit, I was happy to get my hands on a copy of this second read, where it appears, the horse now gets a bicycle. After all, every horse needs a bicycle....  if our pony would like one? Hmmm....

Anyway, I'm curious to see if this one holds enough originality over the last to still make it interesting and am hoping for the same, witty humor. And what better way to begin a new week than with a smile?

by Charise Mericle Harper
Union Square Kids
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8
48 pages

Award-winning author and illustrator Charise Mericle Harper creates a laugh-out-loud picture book about making something out of nothing and the power of imagination in this companion title to I Cannot Draw a Horse .
The Horse wants a bicycle.
A bicycle is hard to draw.
The Book cannot draw a bicycle.
But the Book CAN draw shapes.
Can the Horse and the Cat build a bicycle from shapes? Or will their dreams end in pieces?

Featuring the same quirky contemporary voice and kid-friendly comic illustration style as its predecessor, I Cannot Draw a Horse , this children's metafiction book is an art lesson about creativity and determination, wrapped around a humorous narrative. Readers who have enjoyed other fourth wall—breaking books like B.J. Novak's The Book With No Pictures will appreciate the interactive elements in this book for children ages 3–8.

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Silliness ensues as a simple shape morphs into all sorts of possibilities to meet an expectation the characters can't even define themselves.

An unseen narrator begins the read with one, simple sentence on one page and a very simple shape on the next. While it might first appear to be a boring, gray bump, the entire book mountains with imaginative possibilities from there. Using the the shape, the narrator forms a cat, a horse, and a skateboard, which seems nice, but the horse wants a bicycle...sounds like a somewhat-doable task until misunderstandings and more lead into all sorts of unexpected directions. There's tons of wit, plenty imagination, and a ridiculous back and forth which promises more than a couple giggles and smiles.

Everything about this read steers toward the younger audience level. The text is simple, uses a large font, and stays concise, making it great even for beginner readers to start following along or as a read aloud in group settings. The illustrations concentrate on the two characters and whatever item is drawn at that moment. This helps readers to easily identify the shape's use in various ways and forms, and demonstrates how something so basic can be expanded into so much more. This also can lead to art/craft projects and does help exercise the imagination and creativity in a very enjoyable way.

It's a fun book with clever twists, builds creative skills, and will have listeners laughing, too.

And here he is...

Charise Mericle Harper is the award-winning author and illustrator of numerous children’s books and series, including the Just Grace series, the Fashion Kitty series, and the Next Best Junior Chef series. Harper’s signature wit, kid-friendly illustrations, and wholly original style have made her a familiar name with caregivers, educators, and librarians looking for books that encourage imagination and showcase art education. Charise lives with her family and furry pets in Portland, Oregon.