Thursday, July 31, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Battle for the Acropolis by Mikey Brooks (Gates of Atlantis)


Welcome to the fourth day of The Gates of Atlantis blog tour. Don't miss the awesome GIVEAWAY, details on all six books and their authors, and the schedule for the rest of the tour at the bottom of the post so you don't miss a thing!

I want to start off by admitting my obsession to all things 'Atlantis'. The very concept itself is such a fascinating piece of history, mythology, and mystery. Even though Atlantis has (likely) never existed, it has affected the world just as much as if it had. My favorite thing about Atlantis mythology is seeing the many different takes on it by writers of all mediums.

So, yeah, a six book series by six different authors (a la 39 Clues and Infinity Ring) called The Gates of Atlantis is totally up my alley.

Check out my video booktube review of The Battle for Acropolis or scroll down for the text version.

The Review:

The Battle for Acropolis by Mikey Books is listed on as the sixth and final book, but the great thing about this series is that each book is self-contained. They are designed to be read as individual novels that will make up a whole, not necessarily as a start-to-finish series. It's a unique approach and I think they've pulled it off well.

This book centers around foster kids Talon –who has a knack for getting into trouble and shooting fire out of his palms– and Hattie –a chatterbox bent on running away to find her grandmother in Florida.

I breezed through this book. At no point did I feel bogged down with superfluous exposition, so that scored some major points with this book. It kept my attention with the fast pace, interesting characters, and unfolding mystery. What are Talon's weird dreams all about? Is he really just a mutant freak? And what's up with Hattie's hair?

What I love most about Mikey Brooks' storytelling is the ease with which he writes characters. They feel like real kids, with quirks and doubts and determination. He represents the awkward stage of middle schoolers so well I'm inclined to believe his bio, that he really is a child masquerading as an adult.

Perfect level for middle school readers. Though elements of the story were predictable, it was entertaining enough to keep me reading and there were a couple of surprises.

The Gates of Atlantis is rampant with new imaginings of all kinds of mythos -banshees, mer-people, nymphs, kelpies. Each book seems to concentrate on the particulars of one or two kinds and I'm looking forward to reading even more about the others.

Even though the story is nicely resolved and self-contained, you can tell that there is more going on. Everything wraps up –there are no cliffhangers or dangling plot threads– but we are inundated with the whole series' cast of characters toward the climax. It hints toward the other adventures and different story lines. While it's a little tricky to keep them all straight, I predict it wouldn't be a problem if you'd read the other books. Part of me wishes we could have gotten to know these characters a little better within the margins of Battle for the Acropolis, because I'm curious about them, but I also feel that it would have pulled away from Talon's story, which is exactly what we don't want. I like the fact that I don't feel like I have to read the rest of the series to get the whole story, but I definitely want to because I'm curious, I want to know more about the world and the characters. As I read, I could tell where the different stories came in; there was enough detail that I wasn't confused, but not enough to spoil the other five books. On the whole, magnificently executed.

To Read or Not To Read?

What do I recommend? To Read. 

Battle for the Acropolis gets four stars. I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of this series. Perfect material for 8-12-year-olds, boys and girls, and anyone obsessed with Atlantis. There's something here for everyone.

Battle for Acropolis by Mikey Brooks

Thirteen-year-old Talon is in trouble...again. He didn't mean to burn down the school library. It just happened. Things like that always happen to Talon. His life is a mixture of the weird and bizarre. No one else he knows can shoot fire from their hands or cause an earthquake...but he can.

Every night the same dream haunts Talon: the destruction of an underwater city. He doesn't have a clue what it means but he feels like fate is trying to warn him. It's not until he runs away with his foster sister Hattie that he discovers his trouble-making powers and strange nightmare are connected. Together they are the key to saving saving Atlantis.

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several picture books including the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons. He is also the author of the best-selling middle-grade fantasy The Stone of Valhalla as well as the exciting series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast.

Mikey's Links of Awesome: Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Pinterest

The Gates of Atlantis

Banshee at the Gate by Wendy Knight
Thirteen-year-old half-breed banshee, Seven, likes her life. She leads souls safely to Death and she has the planet’s most awesome dad and little brother. But a cryptic message from Atlantis asking for her help changes all that. And then there’s Death, who has decided it’s time to take her brother’s soul. Now she’s racing across the world, trying to stay one step ahead of Death.
Unfortunately, getting to Atlantis from Ireland isn’t easy, and there are evil minions determined to keep her away every time she turns around. But fighting for their lives teaches Seven one very important lesson—she isn’t human, and she isn’t a banshee. She has to be both if she wants to save her brother and make it back home alive.

Wendy Knight is the bestselling author of the young adult series Fate on Fire and Riders of Paradesos. She was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, no touching the get the idea). She also enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big—her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S. You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion. And if everything works out just right, she will also be writing.

Wendy's Wonderful Links: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Wattpad

Guardians of the Gate by Laura D. Bastian

Thirteen-year-old merman Exander wants to leave Atlantis to mingle with the humans and explore the world above. Talia, his best friend, wishes she was a guardian of a gate leading to the surface. She'd keep those nasty humans out of her beloved city of Atlantis. When Talia accidentally short circuits a gate, Exander is trapped on the wrong side, getting a crash
course in navigating the human world. As Talia fights to help Exander come home, she learns someone is closing the other gates, and it’s destroying the magic of Atlantis. If they can’t convince the magical creatures of the world to save the gates, the destruction of Atlantis will only be the beginning.


Laura Bastian grew up in a small town in central Utah and now lives in another small town in northern Utah. She always loved stargazing and imagining life outside her own little world. Though they grew up only thirty miles apart, she didn’t meet her husband until they went to college. A graduate of Utah State University with a degree in Elementary and Special education, Laura has been using that training as she raises her children and writes make believe worlds. You can usually find her on her laptop either typing away, or on social media interacting with friends.

Laura's Brain-Bending Site:

Secrets of the Mine by Juli Caldwell

Adam Alfaro daydreams about magic, myths, and becoming famous for discovering the lost city of Atlantis. The only problem? He has to spend spring break in Africa while his mom w
orks. To make it worse, everyone expects him to be friends with the annoying Clancy Pitt while he’s there. It’s dislike at first sight...until he realizes she might know a few secrets about Atlantis.
Then he meets Nef, a spirited sea kelpie who needs help rescuing naiads kidnapped and left to die in an ancient mine. Suddenly the strange creatures Adam dreamed of become all too real. And they’re after him. Can Adam, Clancy, and Nef fight their way through the maze of tunnels in the mine and reach the naiads before it's too late?

Juli Caldwell --This is where I tell you about how amazing and interesting my life is. Sorry to disappoint you with my non-glamorous life, but I'm a normal person who loves to read and loves to write. I've written romance, YA paranormal, and mid-grade fantasy--who knows what I'll try next? I just listen to the voices in my head and let their stories out. I'm married to my favorite person, and together we're raising two hilarious daughters and a dog who dances gangnam style for treats. La vie est belle! 

Juli's Rad Links: Twitter | Blog

Magicians of the Deep by Jaclyn Weist

Thirteen-year-old Colin knew nothing of the magic world until he is bitten by a mischievous
pixie. He meets thirteen-year-old Alleya on a secret website devoted to magical creatures. Before he knows it, Colin finds himself thrust into a whole new world. Alleya has been hidden away from the rest of Atlantis because she’s half-mermaid, half-Atlantian. Her father tries to ease her boredom by getting her a computer and finally allowing her to go to school. She accidentally lets slip a dark secret —the gates to Atlantis are being shut and it's destroying magic. Alleya is exiled to Indiatlantis.

There, she learns mermaids are getting sick because of the lack of magic, and the tunnels are beginning to collapse. Together, Colin and Alleya must find a way to bring back the old magic and fight to save Atlantis.


Jaclyn Weist is an Idaho farm girl who grew up loving to read. She developed a love for writing as a senior in high school, when her dad jokingly said she was the next Dr. Seuss (not even close, but very sweet). She met her husband, Steve at BYU and they have six happy, crazy children that encourage her writing. After owning a bookstore and running away to have adventures in Australia, they settled back down in their home in Utah. Jaclyn now spends her days herding her kids to various activities and trying to remember what she was supposed to do next.

Jaclyn's Jammin' Blog:

Madness Behind the Throne by JR Simmons

Callidora is an Atlantian noblewoman and member of an elite guard whose purpose is to keep Atlantis pure...until her life is turned upside down by the birth of a son.

Phoibos, bullied and taunted by other kids, is sure of one thing: something is wrong with Atlantis. Impure, Atlantian-Human hybrids are ruining his city, and he'll stop at nothing to rectify that. Callidora is the only one who knows the truth of who her only son really is, and how dangerous he can be. Can anyone stop Phoibos before his need for purification brings Atlantis to the very brink of destruction?

JR Simmons lives in Northern Utah with his wife and 4 boys. He loves spending time with his family and coaching his kids in all of their different sports. He is an avid gamer and is very excited that his boys are picking up on his hobby. JR was recently introduced to triathlons and has since found that he loves the sport. Most nights he can be found either sitting down with a good game or hunched over his iPad writing.

J.R.'s Usual Haunts: Twitter | Blog



And don't forget to come Join the launch party!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Some People Have Way Too Much Time On Their Hands...

...and then some people make the most of it by doing things like this Star Wars/Indiana Jones/Jack Ryan mash-up. (It's a little large, but it's worth it.)

I loves me people like this. What a great way to start a Monday. ^_^

Friday, July 25, 2014

ENLISTED -5 Reasons This Cancelled Show Is Worth Watching

Every once in a great while you find a show that's more than a show. Something that has depth and genuine feeling, something that can take on heavy topics without weighing you down, something that can make you laugh and cry all at once.

Enlisted, described as a workplace comedy by creator Kevin Biegel, is just such a show.

There are a lot of things I could say in a heart-felt gush to make you watch this (in fact, I did that right here), but I'll sum it up with my five favorite things.

  1. This show is not afraid to take on serious issues that exist for our soldiers, like PTSD and outliving friends, and it's done incredibly well. Kevin Biegel's secret? "I think when I get emotional it doesn't trickle out, the damn just kinda bursts then self-heals, and that seemed to be a good approach to the show: be funny, but don't be scared to jump from funny right into the heavier stuff."
  2. It has a lot of heart. #handsonhead

  3. Brotherly love. Wacky, crazy, caring, and dysfunctional brotherly love, but brotherly love all the same.
  4. The jokes are not at the expense of the military and its dedicated service men and women or a satire of it.
  5. It's hilarious. I split my sides laughing in every. single. episode.

Enlisted has been cancelled by FOX, but there is still hope that another network or Yahoo! Screen will pick up the military comedy. Critics and fans alike are not shy about telling the world cancelling this show was a mistake, and creator Kevin Biegel isn't ready to give up on it, so there's still a chance we can see more seasons.

I see your hesitation. Nobody likes to jump right into a show that's been cancelled. It's like starting a doomed relationship. That's okay. I get it. As a fangirl, I commend your caution, so let's answer some of those questions.

Why was the show cancelled? 
The general consensus is that FOX wasn't sure how to market it or what demographic to pitch it to. As with so many others, Enlisted was shuffled between different nights and times, which didn't help any more than the Friday night death slot it inhabited for awhile.

Is there a cliffhanger ending? 
Thankfully, no. (Isn't that the worst?) The season one finale, while not intended to be a series finale, wraps up at a nice point in Pete's personal arc that will leave you with warm fuzzies and the overwhelming urge to hug your closest family member (that's physical distance, not emotional).

Is it re-watchable?
Definitely. I watched the pilot three times the week it aired and it was just as funny as the first time. Every episode is like this.

Is the show really worth it?
YES. Only thirteen episodes (currently) exist, but you will be better off for watching them. You'll be sad when it's over, true, but what Enlisted gives in heart makes up for the heartache.

Still not sure? Then I dare you. I dare you to watch at least one episode -even a few minutes of an episode- and decide whether twelve more is better than none at all.

If you want to help save Enlisted, following these people on Twitter is a great place to start.
  1. Kevin Biegel: @kbeigel
  2. Mike Royce: @MikeRoyce
  3. @MyVogonPoetry

Monday, July 21, 2014

BookTubeAThon Wrap Up and Recovery

The BookTubeAThon has come to an end. It makes me sad, but it also means I can catch up on much-needed sleep. (Coffee? Someone please give me caffeine?!) One would think after all this reading I'd want a break, but no. I want to immerse myself in even more books. I want to lie on a pile of them as I read page after page.


Until next year, then.

I managed to finish 4 books during the BookTubeAThon, which doesn't come close to my ridiculously optimistic 11, but it is over 1407 pages. *jaw drops* That's almost 1500! If those were dollars instead of pages, that would be enough to by a pretty nice computer! If those were days instead of pages, I'd be 3.8 years older!

So yeah, I'm pretty happy with that.

The Reading Challenges

Of the seven Reading Challenges, I intended to tackle six. I actually finished 3:
  • A book with pictures
  • A book with red on the cover
  • A book from a genre you've read the least this year
  • Read (and watch) a book to movie adaptation
  • A book someone else picks out for you
  • Read seven books (or an average of 300 pages a day)
  • Start and finish a series

The Video Challenges

I really dropped the ball on the video challenges. Time was not something I had in generous supply, and I spent most of that reading.
Bonus video! BOOK DOMINOES!

The Books

Of the eleven selected, I finished these four:

The Experience

The hosts of the BookTubeAThon are brilliant. I doubt they spent very much time reading, because they were putting together awesome reading sprints on Twitter, featuring challenges, holding giveaway contests, and making sure everyone else was having fun.

Thanks so much to everyone who made this happen. I'm looking forward to Year 3!

Of all the challenges that I saw, I think my favorite ones had to be these two hilarious recreated Twilight scenes:


Seriously, though, next year? Realistic reading goals and MORE CHALLENGES!

How do I plan to recover after a week of non-stop reading? Tonight, sleep. Until then, COFFEE. And making up lost time in writing, of course. And may going a *little* crazy...
Java, java, java, java, JAVA!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Four Videos That Would Have Made School Better

Since we're only halfway through the BookTubeAThon, I'm going to save my reading wrap-up until next Monday. Instead of regaling you with the books I've read this week, we're going to talk about school. At least, what might have made things better.

When I was of the age, it bugged me that the lessons were so boring. I really didn't think there was any escaping that. School lessons were generally boring. Period.

Now there's always that one teacher -at least in the shows and books- that finds a way to make class interesting and fun, but it didn't change the fact that the curriculum itself was boring. I bet the creators themselves yawned so often writing it up they wore out their jaws. They could have used up their allotted jaw-muscle movements with unnecessary yawnage and now face the inconvenience of never quite getting them closed. Perhaps they wander about, mouths half-open, in a perpetual appearance of awe.

Back to the point.

I no longer think school has to be boring. It's not a mandatory thing, it's a convenience thing. I say convenience, because most schooling still follows a system of education well over a hundred years old. We've updated nearly everything else into the 21st century -why not education?

School would have been so much easier, so much better, if we'd had people like 'Weird Al' helping out with the curriculum. Instead of the 'i' before 'e' ditty that tumblr-ites have taken great pleasure pulling apart, we could have something more like this:


Or Glove and Boots could have related to us on a deeper level (referring to the Sherlock reference here) to demonstrate rules of grammar:

The Numb3rs professors definitely would have retained my interest in physics or math:

Even Alton Brown does a better job teaching me science than my high school science class and he's a chef:


Sock puppets. Some puns. Crazy experiments to show us science can be fun, instead of telling us it can be. Maybe a teacher with crazy Einstein hair from which he frequently rescued pencils or small dogs. That's not too much to ask, is it?

I want to learn. I think most kids do, too. We just need a little help keeping our brains awake. We want school to be fun.

Monday, July 14, 2014

BookTubeAThon Begins

It's that time of year again.
The BookTubeAThon is here.


I am super-excited to announce my participation for a second year. I had such a blast last time (even if the flooding of the laundry room cut into my quality book time =/). This week-long reading abandon is my reward for finishing the latest draft of my novel.

The BookTube-A-Thon (July 14-21) is every reader's dream. An entire week during summer with every excuse to read, read, read, all day, all the time. 
Better than that, there are hosts keep you on track throughout the week with their own update videos, a list of official reading and video challenges you can do to make the week more fun, and a Twitter account with sporadic reading sprints and random dares to make it all more sociable.
Even if you're not a booktuber, you're welcome to join in!

This year I am going all out.

The Reading Challenges

Of the seven Reading Challenges, I intend to tackle six:
  • A book with pictures
  • A book with red on the cover
  • A book from a genre you've read the least this year
  • Read (and watch) a book to movie adaptation
  • A book someone else picks out for you
  • Read seven books (or an average of 300 pages a day)
  • Start and finish a series

The Video Challenges

Since I already intended on daily video updates, I hope to accomplish all seven of these challenges:
  • Day One: Show your top 3 books you've read because of booktube.
  • Day Two: Find the items on three covers.
  • Day Three: Draw a better cover for any book.
  • Day Four: Write a story using all the words from three titles.
  • Day Five: Make a rainbow of your favorite books.
  • Day Six: Find 5 things from one of the books you've read this week.
  • Day Seven: Show us where you've read during the BookTubeAThon!
These will be posted over on my YouTube channel -toreadnottoread- though I will add the playlist to my sidebar under 'My Latest Video' here on the blog so you can stay updated too!

The Books

Barring another natural disaster, I intend to read:

 Cover image for The professor and the madman [a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English dictionary]

I may have picked too many...