Thursday, October 1, 2015

Review - Fires of Invention (Mysteries of Cove) by J. Scott Savage

Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and invention is a curse word.

Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on and quite possibly their very lives.

3 stars

Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage is a dystopian story for young adults.  Trenton is a brilliant boy who is cursed with an imagination and a desire to build and tinker with machines.  Those are normally good traits, but when you live inside a mountain with a people who fled the world and consider invention and innovation high crimes it doesn't go well.  

This is the first book in a new series and it felt a bit slow to me.  There is a lot of information that needs to be communicated to truly set the stage for the world that Mr. Savage has created.  This leads to a gradual build of the story and the characters.  Kallista is by far the most interesting character and I'm very curious to see where the series takes her.  

I'm very interested in seeing where the rest of the books in this series go and especially what kind of mischief Kallista and Trenton get themselves into.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Review - Heroes of the Dustbin (Janitors 5) by Tyler Whitesides

Although their enemies are powerful, their allies few, Spencer and his team of Rebels are not giving up! But what chance do a handful of kids and one rescued janitor have against the combined evil of the Founding Witches and the Sweepers? Can the Rebels close the source of all Glop and stop the Toxites once and for all-or is the world doomed to fall under the control of the sinister Bureau of Educational Maintenance? This explosive series finale is a gripping ride through conflicted loyalties and daring escapes, unexpected alliances and betrayals, and an ending you will never forget!

4.5 stars

Heroes of the Dustbin is the fifth and final book in the Janitors series by Tyler Whitesides.  The Rebels are not faring well in the battle for the future of education, the kids are still fighting, but things are getting more and more hopeless.  It is difficult to really describe anything that is going on, due to not wanting to include spoilers for any of the books in the series.

Tyler once again did an excellent job writing a book that is accessible for a wide audience.  My young daughter (almost 5) enjoys the series, so does my wife (age redacted).  This book had some pretty interesting twists and the ending was not what I was expecting.  I really liked the way each chapter seemed to have a hook that pulled the reader in, making it difficult to stop reading.

There is honestly not a lot more to say about a book this far into the series.  If you have enjoyed the books so far this will not disappoint you, if you have not read any of them yet, pick up a copy of Janitors and give the series a try.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Author Spotlight and Cover Reveal - J. Scott Savage

STEAMPUNK! Plus Dragons! Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and "invention" is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion-an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they've ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on-and quite possibly their very lives.

Author Note:
Like many of my books, the inspiration for my new series Fires of Invention came from the collision of two ideas. The first time the story occurred to me was while I was watching the musical Wicked with my wife. The moment I walked into the theater and saw the huge mechanical dragon above the stage, I thought, Wow! I have to write a story about that! A few weeks later, I was talking with my nephew, who is probably the most creative kid I know, but whose inventiveness often gets him into trouble, and I thought, What if a kid who had the talents of my nephew lived in a world where creativity was against the law? What if the kids were building . . . a steam-powered dragon? Bam! I had my story.

Powered by great feedback from my agent, Michael Bourret, my good friend and author James Dashner, my publisher, Chris Schoebinger, and the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons, I wrote the entire first draft of the first volume in the series, Mysteries of Cove in four weeks. This book is unlike anything I have ever written. There are elements of City of Ember, Dragon Riders, and Hugo in it all mashed up together in a world I fell in love with from the moment I started writing.

I think what’s most exciting to me about this book is that it’s about giving yourself the freedom to imagine. To take chances. Too often we limit ourselves by only trying things we’re confident we can succeed at when what we need to do is give ourselves permission to fail. Often it is when we attempt things with no idea of how we can possibly pull them off that we achieve our greatest successes.

J. Scott Savage is the author of the Farworld middle grade fantasy series and the Case File 13 middle grade monster series. He has been writing and publishing books for over ten years. He has visited over 400 elementary schools, dozens of writers conferences, and taught many writing classes. He has four children and lives with his wife Jennifer and their Border Collie, Pepper, in a windy valley of the Rocky Mountains.

Find out more information using J. Scott Savage's social media links:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Excerpt - Kitty Hawk and the Curse of Yukon Gold


The Arctic Trails Have Their Secret Tales 

By the dancing dim light of the campfire, the group of men surrounding me looked demonic—light and shadow played off their features and made their faces seem lopsided and horrifically deformed. In such light every scene appears monochromatic, with every detail rendered in shades of only black and orange. True colors are sucked away, and objects are repainted in a hellish tint that makes every face look like a jack-o-lantern and the world look like something out of Dante's Inferno. 

"There you go again," the little voice inside my head nagged. "Always making comparisons to books that you've never read." 

"Shut up," I told myself. "This is hardly the time to be criticizing my choice of literary references." 

Besides, Dante was writing about hell, wasn't he? And the situation that I found myself in was surely the closest thing to hell that I could possibly imagine. 

The tallest one of the group walked over to get a better look at me. As he leaned in close, some dark shadows flickered hideously across his face and eyes and caused me to pull away in terror. I tried to push myself backward away from him, but it was difficult, considering that I was sitting on the ground and my hands were bound tightly behind my back. Every move that I made only pulled the binding tighter and made my wrists scream in agony as the wire cut painfully into the skin. 

"I never should have come out here," I told myself as the tall one stood up again and continued pacing back and forth, trying to figure out what to do with me. How could I have been so stupid? What had I been thinking, hiking around a deserted ghost town from the Yukon Gold Rush in the middle of the night? 

What made me even stupider was the fact that ever since I had first set off on my foolish quest, I'd felt a heavy, dark blackness filling every pore of the landscape. But instead of turning back and going home, I had stubbornly dismissed it as merely the dark shadow of the suffering and death that had occurred here so long ago, when thousands of souls had passed through on their way to the empty dreams of the Klondike gold fields. How many of those greedy fools had died chasing after those empty dreams? 

"I am no better than them," I thought. I was just as stubborn and foolish as they had been, and now I was paying the price for it. 

"I hate to say that I told you so," the little voice in my head said. 

"Yes, you did," I agreed. "But right now, that isn't helping. Right now we have to figure out how to get out of here, because these guys are a bunch of greedy fools just like the rest of them, and who knows how far they'll go to protect the secret of their gold." 

"What are we going to do with her?" the man with dark blonde hair asked the tall one, who was apparently their leader. The tall one thought about this for a moment, and there was a long silence, broken only by the crackle of the nearby campfire. My fear of his answer made my heart pound faster and faster. 

"There's only one thing we can do with her," he said slowly and deliberately, his voice ice cold and emotionless. 

I was terrified of what that meant, and as they continued to discuss my fate among themselves, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and my breathing becoming shallower and faster with every passing second. 

"I promise not to tell anyone," I thought, feeling completely helpless and considering the option of begging them to let me go. "I will promise not to go to the police if you just let me go free." 

"Don't be crazy," the little voice in my head scolded. "They aren't stupid. You discovered their secret! You know about their stolen gold!" 

I remembered a line from a poem that I'd learned back in high school—a poem about the Klondike Gold Rush and the lengths that men were driven to by their greed and lust for gold. 

"The Arctic trails have their secret tales," the poem had said. "That would make your blood run cold." 

That was exactly how I felt at that moment—as though my blood was running cold. I had discovered the secret tale that these men had tried to keep hidden, and now they had no other choice. They couldn't just let me go. They couldn't trust me to keep their secret. And now they had to deal with it. And that was the part that terrified me. 

The men continued their discussion, and a sudden outburst from the tall one broke my train of thought. The discussion had grown quite heated, and he'd finally put an end to it by holding up his palm and cutting off the blonde one in mid-sentence. 

"There's no other way," the tall one said simply.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves. 

There are currently five books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4), and Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces (book 5). Each book can be read as a standalone. 

“In the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series the heroine finds herself in a new geographic location in each book. The series will eventually have a total of 13 books in it (maybe more) and her flight around the world will be completed in the end,” says Iain. “The books are sequential but one could definitely read any of the later ones before reading the earlier ones.”

For more information, go to

About the Author:

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations. 

Iain is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to:

Connect with Iain on Twitter and Goodreads.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Review - The Impossible Race Cragbridge Hall Book 3

In the final book of the Cragbridge Hall trilogy, Abby, Derick, and their friends must utilize their skills in time travel and technology to survive roving bands of dinosaurs, race through space, build robots, and fight virtual dragons.

It’s known as the Race—an annual tournament where teams of students compete in the hopes of winning an unbelievable prize. But before this year’s competition, Derick and Abby receive a terrifying message from the future: Charles Muns’s plan to control history is going to succeed. It will cost countless people their lives and change the destiny of the world. And there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.

Despite the danger, the twins gather their friends and enter the Race, ready to compete against the best of the best in order to claim what might turn out to be a key of ultimate power.

Can they compete the Race in time and stop Muns? Or has the future already been written?

A page-turning, time-travel adventure that teaches powerful lessons about choice and consequence, believing you can do hard things, and valuing our history.

4 stars

The Impossible Race by Chad Morris is the conclusion to the Cragbridge Hall series. Derek, Abby, Rafa, and Carol are still doing everything they can to protect the technology of the bridge, but with most of the adults they trust in comas, it's not easy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys strong YA books.

This book continues to show the strong development of the characters, especially Abby. Where in the first book she had no confidence, she now realizes that she is just as special as everyone else at Cragbridge. Derek is also learning about himself and coming to appreciate his sister for her strengths.

The concept of the race in this book is fantastic and it works wonderfully. The contest allows a lot of suspects to be presented and can keep you guessing the true enemy. I tore through this book in about a day and a half and have recommended this series to my nieces and nephews, who seem eager to check it out.  This has become a go-to series in my house as my wife loves when I read it to my daughter at bedtime.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review - Strike of the Sweepers by Tyler Whitesides

The stakes have never been higher, and you have never seen squeegees do this before! It is a wild and slightly unsanitary ride as Spencer, Daisy, and the rebels find themselves chased by Mr. Clean's new and terrifying breed of toxite--the Sweepers. Time is short. With the fabled Manualis Custodum in hand, Spencer must figure out how to summon the founding witches if they ever hope to mop up and save education.

Review by:  Scott

4 stars

Strike of the Sweepers is the fourth book in the Janitors series.  Spencer and Daisy and continuing their quest to take out the BEM and restore toxite protection to every school.  Since this book is so far into the series and there is a lot that happens in it, I can't really say much without potentially spoiling things.

This is another strong book in the series.  I have read the first three to my daughter (and wife) for bedtime and they really enjoyed them.  My wife was super excited when I showed her the email I got for the release of this one.  I had to read this book myself much faster than it gets covered for bedtime reading and I know that there will be a lot of surprises for them.

If you have already read and enjoyed the first three books in this series then this is a can't miss.  If you haven't ever checked them out and enjoy YA books, they are worth checking out for sure.

Copy of the book received for review purposes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Computer issues

My computer has kicked the big one so I'm currently without a means of updating regularly right now.  I will continue to check my review requests and write down reviews the old fashioned way so I can get them transferred to the blog when I'm back up and running.

Thank for the understanding.