Ferraris, Zoe. Hunt for the Pyxis (Galaxy Pirates #1)
August 4th 2015 by Crown/Random House Children's Books
Copy recieved from the publisher
Emma and her friend Herbie love yachting with her father, even though Herbie suspects that he is not all Emma thinks he is. When her home and family are attacked, Emma realizes he is right. The two call the police but then run away with a book that holds clues to the artifact the attackers seem to be after, the Pyxis. After trying to elude the attackers, Emma and Herbie manage to travel into the dimension from which her parents come by eating a chocolate stone that covers them in "gooey meteorite stuff" and forms a jelly-like bridge that takes them through a wormhole. Herbie briefly turns into an iguana. Their book serves as a map to the constellations in Draco, and other travelers show up to help them out. It turns out that Emma's mother is really Halifax Brighstroke, and her father is Mad Jack, both pirates who are trying to rebel against the Queen, whose evil plans include taking all of the Memory Water for herself. This water has a variety of magical qualities and is in short supply. There are lots of political machinations, but Emma's main concern is finding her parents. Can she do that and neutralize the Queen?
Strengths: Space adventure books have been circulating very well in my library, so it's nice to see a variety of new ones. This had a fair amount of action, and the world build, while a bit convoluted, was very complete. I'm hoping that the next book has Halifax rescued and helping Emma out with mad pirate skills.
Weaknesses: The world building was a bit odd. The whole transport-through-the-wormhole artifice with the jelly like substance was strange. This was more pirate oriented than space oriented, which was disappointing. My readers tend to like a healthy dose of futuristic technology with their space adventure.
What I really think: Since I have a copy, I'll try it out and see how my students like it. In general, pirates and circuses or carnivals do very poorly in my library. No idea why!
Northrop, Michael. Valley of the Kings (Tombquest #3)
August 11th 2015 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
In the beginning of this series, Alex's mother, Professor Bauer, uses the Lost Spells to bring him back from the brink of death, setting free the Death Walkers and unleashing ancient evil against the world. With his cousin, Luke, and his best friend, Ren, Alex has had to fight against the Death Walkers and try to stop the encroaching evil. In this latest installment, The three end up in Cairo with Dr. Todtman, because Alex's mother was last seen in Luxor. Once in Cairo, the group ends up at a safe house, after being chased and their bags stolen. Of course, the house isn't safe, and after being sold out by Mr. Hesaan at the museum, the kids take off on the train to Luxor to find the Book of the Dead, which they think Dr. Bauer has hidden in one of the tombs. Dr. Todtman stays behind, so Alex, Luke and Ren have to fend off poisoning attempts, Peshwar, and Death Walkers on their own. They decide to camp in the Valley of the Kings because staying in a hotel would alert the Death Walkers, but the Valley is unnaturally hot, beset by rogue archaeologists taking advantage of the decreased security, and oddly, not the best place to camp! With help from an unexpected ally, the group manages to dispatch one more Death Walker, but are betrayed by one of their own. The adventure will continue for two more books.
The best part of this series is the description of museums and historical sites! I have never been to Cairo, but have talked to people who have, and it was great fun to read about the building, the crowds, and the general climate of Egypt. I especially loved being able to camp out in the Valley of the Kings, although even more detail would have been great.
The action is the other thing that makes this a fantastic series. There is just no good way to escape Death Walkers, so you know that there will not be many lulls or overly philosophical moments! All three children are adept at using their amulets and repelling attacks, although Ren seems to be a bit more in control of the magic of her amulet than the boys. And who doesn't like mummified cats who are thousands of years old, like Pai?
The ending of this was a cliffhanger, which just makes me want the next two books all the more! Readers of Riordan's Red Pyramid series, Rubalacaba's The Wadjet Eye or the Scholastic Thirty Nine Clues or Infinity Ring series will find the Tombquest series to be an intensive trip to fight off evil in fascinating corners of the globe!
The other books in the series include:
#1 Book of the Dead
#2 Amulet Keepers
#4 Stone Warriors (1/5/16)
#5 Final Kingdom (3/29/16)