Book Review: Explorer Academy The Double Helix

Explorer Academy by Trudi Trueit
Explorer Academy: The Double Helix (Explorer Academy #3)
by Trudi Trueit 

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Cruz and his friends on board the Orion are heading to the Mediterranean, searching for clues left behind by Cruz’s mother before she died. The evil Nebula operatives are never far behind, spying on Cruz and threatening his family. In the middle of his secret quest for his mother’s clues, Cruz still has to attend Explorer Academy classes, compete with his team in class competitions, and try to have a little fun at a student Halloween party. His thirteenth birthday is quickly approaching, and Cruz is in more danger than ever as he navigates the intricacies of the toughest adventure yet!

I loved this plot! There is plenty of action and suspense. I never knew what was going to happen next! There are several plot-lines intersecting as Cruz juggles his school responsibilities, his personal relationships, dodging the nefarious Nebula, and keeping contact with Lani, his best friend back home in Hawaii. Continue reading

Book Review: Explorer Academy Codebreaking Activity Adventure

Explorer Academy Codebreaking Activity Adventure by National Geographic Kids
Explorer Academy Codebreaking Activity Adventure
by National Geographic Kids

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Enter the Explorer Academy as a recruit and crack the codes to find clues that will lead you through the mysterious halls of the Academy. Starting with easy codes and moving into more and more complex puzzles and encryptions, this book teaches the readers how to create and decode various types of ciphers, including semaphore and Morse code.

I loved the way the puzzles and codes are presented as part of an adventure, leading the reader through doorways to various parts of the Academy. Each code that you break gives you a clue to another place in the Academy that you need to go to find the next clue, and there are detours and hazards along the way. Continue reading

Non-Fiction Review: Brain Games

Brain Games by Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Brain Games: Mighty Book of Mind Benders
by Stephanie Warren Drimmer,  Gareth Moore

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Warning: This book will melt your brain!

With puzzles, codes, optical illusions, and games, each chapter focuses on one aspect of how our brains process information, including spatial awareness, how our hearing affects our visual perception, and how our memory works (or doesn’t work).

I especially liked the chapter on Words and Language, which explores how our brains process language and reading. There are tons of word games with anagrams, alphabet codes, palindromes, crossword puzzles, and word search games.

Each chapter starts with an explanation of how the brain functions in particular areas, how the brain is mapped, and what scientists and physicians are discovering about the power of the mind. Then challenges and puzzles are introduced to show how your brain is fooling you, or how your brain is stronger and smarter than you realize. Continue reading

Non-Fiction Book Review: Beginner’s World Atlas

National Geographic Kids Beginner's World Atlas, 4th Edition by National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids Beginner’s World Atlas, 4th Edition
by National Geographic Kids

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

This beginner’s atlas is perfect for young readers with a curiosity about the world! It starts with how maps show different countries and landscapes, and how to read a map using the key, the compass, and the distance scale that shows miles and kilometers. Full of colorful illustrations and photos, this atlas grabs the reader’s attention and brings the wonders of different nations to every page.

I like how the book is divided up by continent. It makes it easy to find what you are looking for, and to see how countries that border each other have a lot in common. It has maps that compare the landscapes, climates, plants and animals that are indigenous to the region, as well as the major cities, languages, and culture of each nation. Continue reading

NonFiction Review: Student World Atlas

National Geographic Student World Atlas, 5th Edition by National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Student World Atlas, 5th Edition 
by National Geographic Kids

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


This atlas is full of amazing maps and information! It’s got pictures and factoids and terrain and history, all with colorful lines and photos and interesting little details.

I like how the book is divided up by continent. It makes it easy to find what you are looking for, and to see how countries that border each other have a lot in common. It has maps that compare the economics, life expectancy, refugee statistics, climate and precipitation, and population of the various countries in each continent and region.

There are maps showing the most prevalent languages on earth, the biggest cities, the most culturally diverse areas, the central religions, how the world grows and exports food, energy, and mineral resources. There is even a map showing the different types of world maps, and how a globe can get distorted by being projected onto a flat surface. Continue reading

Book Review: Falcon’s Feather

The Falcon's Feather by Trudi Trueit
The Falcon’s Feather (Explorer Academy, #2) 
by Trudi Trueit 

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Cruz and his friends are searching for clues left behind by Cruz’s mother, on a quest that will take them to Norway and Iceland. The team stops along the way to do some underwater diving, help some whales in trouble, and tour the beauties of Norway in between their Academy classes and explorer training. Cruz and Emmett soon discover that there are spies on board the Academy’s flagship, Orion, and they don’t know who to trust. When Cruz’s diving equipment fails and puts his life in danger, it only makes him more determined than ever to find some answers.

I didn’t think it was possible for this book to be even BETTER than the first one, but WOW! I am so crazy impressed with this series.

The plot is non-stop action with tons of wonderful adventure, mystery, puzzles, spies, betrayal, high-tech gadgets, and of course, the fascinating characters.

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Book Review: The Nebula Secret

The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit
The Nebula Secret (Explorer Academy, #1) 
by Trudi Trueit

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Cruz has just been accepted into the elite Explorer Academy, which only accepts 25 students per year. In the midst of his classes on anthropology, science, geography, history, and conservation, Cruz also has training sessions in a virtual reality program designed to prepare the students for real-life exploring all over the globe. Then Cruz starts to receive threats from an unknown enemy, and discovers a mystery in the school. His mother died working in the top-secret labs at Explorer Academy, and Cruz is determined to find out what really happened to her.

I loved this book so much! The adventure, the mystery, the engaging characters, the impressive setting at the Academy… I love it all. But the best thing of all… the puzzles and codes!!! I LOVE puzzles and codes.
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Book Review: Make This!

Make This! by Ella Schwartz
Make This!: Building Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You 
by Ella Schwartz

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

This book is perfect for any curious child who loves to take apart their toys, build a bridge out of books, or create their own system of pulleys and levers to open the bedroom door.

With special sections for materials, energy, optics, connecting systems, acoustics, and forces in motion, this book provides all the steps to create a rocket ship powered by your breath, make an entire rainforest ecosystem in a jar, and make a periscope out of cardboard, along with dozens of other projects. Each chapter also has questions to be solved and scenarios that require an imaginative solution.
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Book Review: Nat Geo Kids Almanac 2019

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2019 by National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids Almanac 2019 
by National Geographic Kids

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


I love weird facts and details about history, space, science, ecosystems, geography, and nature. So of course, I devoured this book and enjoyed every colorful page!

With beautiful photos and maps, this book gives a quick look into fascinating places, amazing explorers, strange animals, and dazzling planets and stars all over the galaxy.
I especially loved the section about history that features short bios and photos of influential and celebrated people from world history, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Sacagawea, and Lucille Ball.

There is a comprehensive list of the world’s countries and continents, featuring stats about mountains, oceans, deserts, and other fun facts.
There is even a page about the myth of Atlantis, and the secrets of Stonehenge!
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