Review: True Talents by David Lubar

True Talents
Image from Book Verdict

Title: True Talents (Hidden Talents #2)

Author: David Lubar

Genre: Paranormal, I guess

WARNING: This book is a sequel, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous book. If you haven’t read Hidden Talents, I recommend not reading this review.

When their secret gets out and the bad guys close in, Trash, Martin, Flinch, and the rest of the gang find themselves in a fight for survival against a brutal enemy. An action-packed adventure where things blow up, people die, and Torchie buys an accordion.

After enjoying Hidden Talents, I was pretty excited to read True Talents. I remembered liking it even better than the first book.

I loved the characters even more this time around. I don’t remember how long it’s been since Hidden Talents (it was mentioned in the beginning, but I forgot), but the boys seem much older now. Except for Torchie. Torchie never loses his childlike enthusiasm and cluelessness.

The characters’ aging was likely due to a slightly more serious tone to this book (actually being in danger of dying, as opposed to just navigating school). But I don’t think they’re too old for the Hidden Talents readership – more like 8th or 9th grade, as opposed to 6th or 7th.

I wish their powers had factored into the story a bit more – I’m all about the psychic powers. But True Talents did a good job of spotlighting the boys’ non-psychic abilities. I loved the way they worked together as a team.

Looking back on it, I’m not sure how David Lubar pulled off such an action-packed plot without relying on the powers. There kidnappings, evil scientific experiments, faking a death, guns for hire, an accidental bank robbery, and all sorts of dangerous stuff. But somehow, the story focused more on the boys than their powers.

I remembered correctly – I enjoyed True Talents so much more than book one. And I wish so hard there were more books in the series (preferably one from every boy’s perspective). But I guess I’ll have to settle for what there is. I think I’ll donate this book to the library with Hidden Talents, but I definatly recommend both books for junior high boys.

The Hidden Talents series:

  1. Hidden Talents
  2. True Talents

Report Card

For more on my book grading system, please see my About page.

TRUE TALENTS scored a 3.8 (A)


Review: Hidden Talents by David Lubar

Hidden Talents
Image from egb63’s Weblogs

Title: Hidden Talents (Hidden Talents #1)

Author: David Lubar

Genre: Paranormal

Every time Martin opens his mouth, he gets in trouble. He’s just been dumped at the last place that will take him; a school filled with freaks, misfits, and psychotic bullies. His roommate starts fires, his new friends are thieves and cheats, and his teachers hate him. Then things start to get really weird.

This reread is part of my quest to clean out my bookshelves. I got Hidden Talents on a whim from PaperBack Swap, loved it, and immediately got the sequel. Of course, that was four years ago.

The characters weren’t extremely developed. But that wasn’t a problem. I didn’t remember or expect a lot, and there was enough. Stubborn, smart-mouthed Martin and cheery, oblivious Torchie are the main ones, but there’s also a handful of other boys (friends and enemies) and a few teachers. None of them were outstanding, but they weren’t flat either.

I remembered all of the plot, even the details – it’s simple, straightforward, and uncomplicated. But don’t take that to mean uninteresting, because it isn’t. It just doesn’t have a lot of twists.

Most of the story is Martin figuring out the weird things going on with his new friends, then trying to convince his friends he’s right. Even though I knew what happened, I liked following along.

I still liked this book four years later, but not quite as much as I did the first time. I may give it to my 12-year-old brother, because I think he’d enjoy it, but I won’t be keeping it. (I’ll definitely be reading the sequel, True Talents – I recall liking that one even more.)

The Hidden Talents series:

  1. Hidden Talents
  2. True Talents

Report Card

For more on my report card grading system, please see my About page.

HIDDEN TALENTS scored a 4.0

Fiction, Middle Grade, Paranormal

Review: Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure by A.J. York

Delilah Dusticle's Translyvanian Adventure
Image from A.J. York; used by permission

Title: Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure (Delilah Dusticle #2)

Author: A.J. York

Genre: Paranormal

WARNING: This is usually the point where I warn you not to keep reading if you haven’t read the first book. But these books are so short, I don’t think I’m going to be spoiling Delilah Dusticle at all. So feel free to read on!

In this illustrated installment, Delilah and the Dustbusters are invited to Transylvania to cater for the Hallow Eve Ball. All is not what it seems and Count Dracula has a very unusual request for Delilah.

After the fun I had with Delilah Dusticle, I was excited when A.J. York offered me the next installment in the series. But I saved it for a bad day, because I knew it would cheer me right up. And it did.

I was sad that Abi didn’t really feature too much in this book, and I still hope she gets a bigger part in book three. But I had so much fun with the new characters! Dev and Billy and Doris, the three unique people who go with Delilah to Transylvania. Count Winifred “Winnie” Dracula, with an affinity for glittery suits and skipping. Baroness “Boring Noreen,” who is so boring she has to pay people to pretend she’s interesting. And chihuahua toads!

Sometimes Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure was almost too off-the-wall insane. But it was so, so fun. From the creepy/awesome castle to Winnie’s zany sense of…well, everything, to kidnappings and spies (yes, there are spies), I got a good laugh and it just generally left me in a good mood. It only took me about half an hour to read, but it is a perfect pick-me-up story.

I know I classified Delilah Dusticle as contemporary, but Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure had a much more paranormal feel. There was lots of mythical magicky stuff, plus we learn a little about how and why Delilah has her dust powers.

This series is quirky and fun, and even when things are going completely wrong has a light-hearted and whimsical feel. I’m definitely interested in Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest, whenever it comes out – and I hope that A.J. York doesn’t think a trilogy is good enough.

I received a free review copy of Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure from the author. Her generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Delilah Dusticle series:

  1. Delilah Dusticle
  2. Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure
  3. Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest
Fiction, Middle Grade, Paranormal

Review: The Fallen by A.J. Donnelly

Mind Splinters: The Fallen book cover
Image from AJ Donnelly; used by permission

Title: The Fallen (Mind Splinters #2)

Author: A.J. Donnelly

Genre: Paranormal

WARNING: This book is second in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous book. If you haven’t read The Awakening, I recommend not reading this review.

In this action-packed adventure, Max finds an ancient journal left behind by a powerful telekinetic from the golden age of telepathy. The journal sets off a furious tale, featuring Max’s annoying sister Freyja, a Mind Splinter-tracking robot, and the return of the baddest man this side of The Joker, Jakob Wicksin.
Will Max and company prevail over Wicksin and his twisted ways?

After reading the first Mind Splinters book, The Awakening, I decided that even though The Fallen wasn’t at the top of my reading list, I wouldn’t object to reading it. So when A.J. Donnelly offered me a copy of this book, I said yes.

I liked Max, but honestly, his personality seemed a little vague. He was a twelve-year-old boy with psychic powers, okay. But he didn’t really seem to have any outside interests (or outside friends, since Burke was only in one scene the entire book). I liked him well enough, but he wasn’t a jump-off-the-page character.

Freyja was a cute little brat, which made her sometimes fun but mostly annoying. There were times when I really wanted to like her, but then she would start being a brat and I didn’t like her anymore.

Some of the characters that came in halfway through The Awakening (the ones I complained about) reappeared, and I liked them better this time around. There were also a couple new ones, mainly Wade, who may just be my new favorite character.

This plot was fabulous. Wicksin gets a lot of page time, so I got to see all the bad stuff in store before Max did. And there’s a whole heck of a lot of bad stuff. This book is called The Fallen for a reason. The finding-Wicksin mystery plot gets ramped up into a stop-Wicksin-before-he-does-something-even-worse plot, and a major miscommunication makes that one even worse than it needed to be. Twists and turns and lots of exciting stuff to be found here.

The Mind Splinters series’s biggest weakness is character development, and its biggest strength is fabulous plotting. Overall, not my absolute favorite series, but I wouldn’t object to reading book three (whenever it comes out).

I received a free review copy of The Fallen from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Mind Splinters series:

  1. The Awakening
  2. The Fallen
Fiction, Middle Grade, Paranormal

Review: The Awakening by AJ Donnelly

Mind Splinters: The Awakening book cover
Image from AJ Donnelly; used by permission

Title: The Awakening (Mind Splinters #1)

Author: AJ Donnelly

Genre: Paranormal

Every kid dreams of having super powers. So when 12-year old Max Daely realizes he can read minds, he can’t believe his good luck. Then reality hits. His new powers not only control him, they attract a nefarious cast of villains, all with dark designs on how Max can help them take over the world.

I’m not a big fan of mainstream paranormals, but anything with psychic powers trips my trigger. The summary was a little vague, but hey, telepathy. How bad can it be?

Max was actually a pretty normal preteen boy – which kind of surprised me. I expected him to maybe be a nerd, or a loner, or someone more likely to get psychic powers. I liked him, although I didn’t love him, maybe because I’m a seventeen-year-old girl and Max was a twelve-year-old boy.

Gray Towers (besides the fact that his name sounded more like a place than a person to me) was honestly pretty bland. I guess I expected him to play a bigger part. Besides recruiting Max for lessons, he didn’t really do anything else until about halfway through. I can see how he’s kind of the uninvolved mentor guy, but I think he should have done more in the first half.

I didn’t expect Max’s friend Burke to be an important character. I honestly thought he was there just to establish Max had friends. But then he turned up to play a major part in the end. He wasn’t a bad character, but he was just kind of bland – maybe because he wasn’t in hardly anything of the first half.

The plot took a little time to get started – the tension was pretty low in the first half, but there were hints of something going on. Then, in the second half, it picked up. And I mean really picked up. I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but let’s just say that once I got to the second half, the plot got amazing. And creative. And there were lots of psychic powers.

My only problem with this book was some character issues. In the first half, the major characters are Max, Mr. Towers, Wicksin the telekenisis teacher, and a little bit of Mya, a kidnapped telekenitic. I grew to like/dislike/feel bad for them. Then, about two-thirds of the way though,a bunch more characters showed up. I think I might have liked them if I’d have gotten to know them earlier in the story, but without knowing who they were, I just didn’t care.

The Awakening did need a little work, but overall, I enjoyed the story. The second book in the Mind Splinters series, The Fallen, isn’t at the top of my reading list, but I’d be interested in reading it. (Hopefully, I’ll get to know some of these characters a little better.)

I received a free review copy of The Awakening from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

Mind Splinters series:

  1. The Awakening
  2. The Fallen