Category archives for Joshua
BOOK NAME: I, Q: Book One, Independence Hall
AUTHOR: Roland Smith
What if your parents were major rock stars, had a contract signed, and were traversing the entire country performing on a tour? And what if you found out that your stepsister’s mom was a secret service agent, and you also noticed some weird creeps stalking after you? These questions are what stepsiblings Q (Quest) and Angela must come face to face with in the start of a thrilling series by Roland Smith.
Q and Angela’s parents are pop stars, and the entire family is now on a tour performing across the U.S. It seems as if nothing strange could ever occur as the family heads from city to city on a mega RV. Everything, however, changes when an old roadie (people who set up equipment during a stage performance) named Boone spontaneously appears and decides to become the family’s driver. To top that off, Angela begins to harbor strange feelings that someone is following them. That’s when Q discovers that his stepsister’s deceased mother was a former Secret Service operative who was killed by foreign terrorists. Before long, Q and Angela manage to get involved in the secretive, deadly world of intelligence and espionage, as they must encounter and deal with Israeli Mossad agents, private intelligence agencies, and the conspiracy surrounding Angela’s mother’s death. Can Q and Angela uncover the truth behind the death and reveal who the actual villains are?
IQ Book 1: Independence Hall is one of the best modern day thrillers I have ever read. Roland Smith, who is usually an expert author when it comes to nature and animals, finally takes his renowned writing career and steers it into the genre of action/thrillers. The great thing about this book is that instead of featuring just adult characters, Roland Smith is able to include characters who are young adults. As a result, this allows young readers to connect with the main characters, mainly Q and Angela, and therefore, enjoy an amazing reading experience. When Smith writes other novels, he usually enables them to bring forth an excellent plot and at the same time, enlighten readers about the phenomena of science, nature, and biology. Another laudable feature of this book is that Smith decides to put aside scientific topics and brings politics into the mix. IQ Book 1 takes a dive into the world of intelligence and counter-terrorism, political situations affecting the world today, and the hectic lifestyle of renowned rock stars. The cast of the book is a unique one filled with a variety of intriguing, interesting, and even comedic characters. Interesting characters in this book included Q (the main character), who is adept at magician skills and devouring hamburgers in three bites; Angela, whose intelligence, instinct, and coolness allow her to overcome any situation; Boone, the book guru who owns a book collection that would have made the Library of Congress seem like a simple shelf; and Israeli agent Eben, who always seems to daunt the audience with his relentless determination to accomplish a mission. The plot and humor are what certainly define the book, as readers will be hooked onto the plot and laugh at the numerous moments of humor found in abundance throughout the book. The plot, though, may seem a bit too intricate and complicated to understand at first (that’s why I had to read it more than once), but this is a Roland Smith book that you do not want to miss out on!
This book is definitely interesting for any reader out there who’s got nothing on their desk to read. On a scale of 1-10, I’d grant this book a 10.
BOOK NAME: Elephant Run
AUTHOR: Roland Smith
Nick Freestone is a young teen living in a time when the world is at war. Due to the fact that the city he resides in, London, is being bombed by German bombers constantly, Nick’s mother decides to send him off to Burma where his father manages a teak plantation. Nick feels that he will be safe in Burma halfway around the world and is ready to learn about the world of mahouts (elephant handlers) and teak harvesting. At the plantation, he befriends Mya, a girl his age, and the legendary elephant monk Hilltop.
Everything seems to fare well for Nick until the day the Japanese invade the country. Japanese troops overrun the plantation and hold the villagers hostage. Nick’s father and several other plantation workers are sent off to a labor camp while the rest (including Nick) are held in captivity at the plantation. As Nick adapts to harsh life in the Japanese-occupied plantation, he is forced to play the role of servant and suffers from the abuse of Bukong, the plantation’s former chef who is a Burmese collaborator with the Japanese. Eventually, he and Mya cannot tolerate the Japanese occupation of the country any longer and secretly plan to escape the plantation and rescue their imprisoned family members with the assistance of Hilltop. The two know that escape is nearly impossible. Japanese soldiers control the entire countryside and the jungle wilderness is an inhospitable place. Despite the risk of capture and punishment, nothing will stop Nick and Mya as they embark on a dangerous journey to free themselves from the Japanese.
Elephant Run by Roland Smith is one of the best books he has ever written that is intended for younger audiences. The book combines history, cultural studies, and nature, and is a unique book with something for everyone. Elephant Run takes an in-depth look at Burma during WWII and tells the story of Nick’s experiences living in a wartime Japanese-occupied Burma. I appreciate the fact that Smith examines an uncommon, “backwater” front of the war that is not as studied as the other famous fronts of the Second World War. The story’s background settings will allow readers to know what life was like for the Burmese as they were subjugated and dominated by the Japanese including labor conditions and the dangers of disobeying the military authorities. Roland Smith’s book also takes a fascinating look at the culture and wildlife of Burma. He accurately describes the clothes that the Burmese wear (skirt-like clothing known as a Longyi), the diverse wildlife of the country, the inside of a traditional Burmese home, the trade of a mahout (elephant handler), and other aspects of Burma.
I especially enjoyed the plot, which was fraught with suspense, action, and memorable characters. I’m pretty sure that Elephant Run could be made into a film, because the action never seemed to cease for even a moment! Elephant Run is an excellent read for any historical fiction fans, and I’d give it a 9.5/10. This book is simply brilliant and creative, and will not fail to satisfy!
BOOK NAME: Peak
AUTHOR: Roland Smith
14-year old Peak is obsessed with the sport of climbing. He attends climbing camps, has had previous experience with climbing, and it happens to be known that Peak’s parents were formerly renowned climbers. All this to say, Peak is so engrossed by climbing that he has taken the initiative to start climbing several New York skyscrapers! All fares well for Peak until the worst possible scenario occurs: Peak is caught and arrested by the New York Police Department while he is scaling the Woolsworth Building. With Peak’s story buzzing throughout New York, and the court threatening to sentence him for a few years in a Juvenile Detention Center, Peak’s father, Josh, offers to take custody of Peak for a little while until things calm down in the city. Josh takes Peak to the towering slopes of Mount Everest where he manages a climbing company. At the mountain, he offers Peak an opportunity to reach the summit of Everest, which Peak cannot resist. However, attempting to reach the summit isn’t exactly a walk in the park for Peak, as he must strike a mutual bargain with his father, endure the hardships of climbing the world’s tallest mountain (i.e weather, sickness), and deal with stubborn Chinese authorities and his father’s aggravating clients. Here, in this book, Peak writes a detailed account of his adventure in the Himalayas and the numerous emotions and struggles he must grapple with in his quest to conquer a merciless mountain.
Peak was one of the best books I have ever read that deals with the genre of adventure survival/nature. Roland Smith carves out a spectacular fictional novel about climbing Mount Everest and at the same time, decorates that novel with a rich, vivid storyline. In other words, Smith doesn’t just fill an entire book on basic knowledge facts on climbing Everest but also manipulates that knowledge part so that it revolves around a centralized story. As a result, readers are not only enriched by facts about Everest, but are also entertained by Peak’s experience scaling the mountain. I’d also like to commend the author for his excellent character depth and development, as he assembles a group of memorable characters each with their own unique traits/characteristics. For example, readers will definitely be able to remember Zopa, a strong-willed Buddhist monk whose wisdom and experience in climbing mountains are revered by those who interact with him. Other unforgettable characters include the amiable, humble Sun-Jo, one of Peak’s closest climbing partners, Holly Angelo, the grouchy journalist who always wants things her way, and Captain Shek, the Chinese captain who always seems to be suspicious about all the climbers on Everest. While readers go through the book, they will be delighted by Roland Smith’s unique style of writing as he shares every one of Peak’s thoughts. Readers will laugh at Peak’s jokes that spring out from his mind and will be able to interpret every emotion that he goes through during his climb. The book also gives great insight into the difficulties of climbing Everest, from the infamous climbing condition known as HAPE to oxygen deprivation, and also takes a cultural look at Everest, delving into the world of Sherpas (the natives of the mountain who assist the climbers).
There were barely any negative aspects in this book and I’d definitely suggest this book for all adventure/action, nature, and science readers. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give this book a 10, as it is definitely one of the best young adult novels Roland Smith has ever written. Check out this book whenever you can, and I’ll guarantee you’ll enjoy it!
BOOK NAME: Every You, Every Me
AUTHOR: David Leviathan
Evan is wracked with guilt. He feels responsible for the disappearance of his friend Ariel and as a result, is engulfed by waves of depression and regret almost everyday. Everything changes when Evan is walking to school one morning and discovers an envelope with a photo inside. The photo shows nothing but the exact spot he is standing on! Soon afterwards, more envelopes begin to appear with more photos of him, his friends, and even the private places where he would hang out with his friends! Evan soon begins to grow suspicious and paranoid and begins to ponder what the photos could mean. Has Ariel returned and is haunting him with photos to remind him of his actions? Or could it be someone else who’s been close with Ariel before? As Evan conducts his own investigation to reveal the truth behind the photos, he must find the photographer before he is completely trapped within the walls of lies, conspiracy, and unreality that threaten to tear him apart. Read Every You, Every Me to find out what happens to Evan as he combats the ever-growing darkness clutching at his heart!
Every You, Every Me by David Levithan was a decent book. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 7.5. I think it’s unique that the author employed the photographic novel concept in his story, but the story also lacks crucial elements. For one thing, the author fails to begin to draw in the reader’s attention in the beginning/middle sections of the story and only succeeds in doing this by the near end of the book. The story was also a bit enigmatic and secretive for most of the time, as readers can’t really understand what happened to Evan’s friend Ariel during the course of the story.
However, I enjoyed the end, when the the story reaches its climactic point. The author excellently came in strong by generating suspense that would make readers be at the edge of their seats. The main character is well depicted in the story and readers get to comprehend Evan’s inner feelings throughout much of the text (even the “crossed-out” ones). For example, Evan will recall random moments with Ariel such as their eccentric, philosophical conversations and their romantic dates. This book was neat in its own way and it was the first time I had the opportunity to acquire a glimpse of a photographic novel. The plot of the book also resembled that of an epic drama.
BOOK NAME: Scorpia Rising
AUTHOR: Anthony Horowitz
15-year-old Alex Rider, teen super spy, has been a vital asset for the British intelligence agency MI6. For about a year, MI6 has dispatched Alex on numerous missions throughout the world to thwart the plans of maniacal, nefarious men who’ve attempted to carry out their diabolical plans. But now, Alex has had enough of dangerous missions and has “retired” in order to enjoy the luxuries of being a teenager. However, his retirement is soon cut short by the arrival of an old enemy: Scorpia. Alex had already defeated this ruthless terrorist organization twice in the past, but Scorpia has returned in order to restore its shattered reputation and has its attention turned towards the Middle East. Alex is forced to go undercover under the orders of MI6 and halt whatever Scorpia is trying to accomplish. Can Alex defeat Scorpia a third time, or will he have finally met his match?
Scorpia Rising by Anthony Horowitz, was a superb book fraught with suspense, action, and memorable characters. The author definitely ends the Alex Rider series well with this book and at the same time, gives readers a taste of what a true action-packed book should be like. Scorpia Rising contains several commendable “positives.” For one, the action surpassed that of the previous books in the series. Readers will be hooked onto the book while they read about Alex’s daring exploits as he races to stop Scorpia’s operations in the Middle East. From narrow escapes from burning boats to epic fistfights, readers will be caught in the thick of the action. Suspense also accompanies the action in the story by allowing smooth transitions between certain sections of the book. The author also tinkers with the plot section of the story and not only crafts an intricate, eventful storyline, but also makes the characters themselves appeal to the reader. Scorpia Rising introduces new characters while also including returning ones. An example of a returning character is Julius Grief, one of Dr. Grief’s clones in the second book of the series, while a new character includes Razim (the primary antagonist of the book).
This book did not contain many negatives, but one particular one might be the complex plot. Some readers may find it difficult to understand what is going on, but fortunately, the action and other positives of the book will make up for plot confusion. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give this book a 10, as it clearly represents what an outstanding thriller should be like. I’d recommend this book to any action/adventure reader who’s scouring the library shelves searching for a perfect thriller.