How to Make Friends With a Robot

Crank the Kidbot has been out and about quite a bit lately, meeting bio-kids and bio-adults alike. He's a sociable robot and loves making friends everywhere he goes. In the future where Crank and his best bio friend Hub live and have their adventures people and robots live, work, and play side-by-side. In fact, by the time these two meet in sixth grade, bots and bios have been friends for centuries. 

In today's world, though, there are a few things you'll want to know about robots that will help you make friends when one does come along. Crank has volunteered to show some of his features. 

Check out the photos of bios who have met Crank and joined the BOTOLOGY CLUB

And Rabble back if you know any robots. We'd love to hear your experience.

"Multiplayer" by John C. Brewer

5 fist-pumping, enthusiastic Rabbles for an inventive YA thriller!

Is dying the worst thing that can happen to you? Hector West thinks so, especially after the death of his father in Iraq. So, Hector escapes into the online world of Omega Wars where he knows the worst that can happen to his ‘character’ is an inconvenient respawn. After all, real is real and virtual isn’t. Yet Hector’s real and virtual worlds are heading for a deadly collision as the war that took his father crashes headlong into his quiet suburban life. And getting killed, Hector is about to find out, isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. It isn’t even close.

The seed for Multiplayer sprouted in author John C. Brewer's head from encountering gamers from around the world while Brewer and his three sons played HALO on XBox-Live. As a physicist and rocket scientist, he was also aware of the technical difficulties government authorities would have monitoring for voice evidence of criminal activity in a mixed data stream, and the idea for the book was suddenly obvious. The military family setting, and the trials that it brings, was a natural backdrop for him, having grown up in a family with a long military history. While Multiplayer's joys, tragedies and real life challenges appeal to a wide range of readers, Brewer hopes the novel's context will also draw in those game-playing teens who have given up on books as a source of entertainment.

WOW! What a great book! This first installment of the Multiplayer Saga - an inventive YA thriller that masterfully blends the realm of online gaming with real life - kept me on the edge of my seat for almost a week. I enjoyed this book tremendously! It is a great addition to our Rabble Review. Recommended by a friend, this book was a great pleasure to read and review.

First and foremost, the characters were very believable and likable. There was not one point anywhere in this book where overwhelming drama overshadowed the action! In fact the action never let up from the beginning to the end. Essential characters and action were replete throughout the book. I was always in sympathy with the young protagonist, Hector West. Given what he had been through in his family it was easy to identify with his character. It usually takes most of a book for me to come into agreement with a character's foibles, but I found myself sympathetic with Hector almost from the start!

Featuring a truly modern setting, up to date terms and themes, and a plot relevant to the daily lives of today's youth, this book explores many of the issues we have all been dealing with these last few decades. The moral questions of religion and ideology were present in this fast moving book without being overbearing. The presentation of Hector's struggles with hatred and forgiveness reveal qualities that showed that the author has dwelt with these questions himself.

The Reading Rabble will be aware that I do not give out 5-Rabble reviews lightly. But I am thrilled to give "Multiplayer" the best of ratings! John C. Brewer himself has pronounced his book to be one which unwilling readers will want to read. I find myself in complete agreement. The modern subject, and ease of vocabulary promises to hypnotize a young reader enough to put down the control pad and pick up this book.

We're looking forward to much more from this author and from this series! 5 Huge Rabbles for "Multiplayer" !

Time for the Rabble to give back! Got any books that will compete and win against electronic media? 

Reading Rabble Review: Children of the After Book 3 "Evolution"

4 Big Rabbles for continuing excellence in this YA series!

Having stolen the pickup, Ole Bessy, from the Resistance, Jack, Samantha, and Will find themselves on the run once again. Pursued by those who had once kept them as captives, they are forced to flee into the unknown. 
Now that Tammy’s secret has been exposed, she reveals to her friends a prophecy of her people, further complicating the web of fate the siblings find themselves in. 
Finding both new allies and new foes, revealed secrets will lead them all to ‘The City of Angels’ to face the ultimate threat by the invaders themselves.

Once again we find our heroes on the run. This time they are running from the human resistance instead of to it. Since finding the Resistance - including their new friend Tammy - to be a ruled by tyrannical madman bent on destruction our heroes decided they have little choice. The resistance, however, has other idea's and is in pursuit. This action sequence is thrilling. Their escape brings more danger than any of them expected.


By now, Tammy has been revealed as an alien but that does not seem to bother our hero siblings. After all, Tammy has saved their lives more than once and has shown herself to be a true friend no matter what her origins. This acceptance has important aspects for the rest of the story as they will find themselves needing friendships from all beings to continue their journey.

Having made their escape Jack, Samantha, and Will begin to discover that they truly are special. Taking refuge with a group of Tammy's 'people' in hiding they will find out more about themselves than they ever thought possible.

In the interest of not spoiling too much of the story I hesitate to reveal much more of the plot. Suffice to say that our siblings discover latent powers that bring a new dimension of excitement to their journey. 

Once again, I am thrilled with the "Children of the After" series. It has all the elements of a great sci-fi action novel, but is put together in a way that can engage anyone. Of all the books the Rouser has reviewed so far, this series continues to be one with the highest marks for Reluctant Readers. None of the vocabulary is difficult to read and the characters are very likable. This third installment brought  some great concepts into the story. The action sequences are thrilling and the drama is both believable and limited. Author Jeremy Laszlo has created a great YA story that will keep you turning those pages. I am very excited to get to the next (and final) book in this series. I am sure it will be as great as the others. 

4 Rabbles with an R for Reluctant Readers is easy to give this third book in the "Children of the After" series. If I could give two R's for this series I would to encourage Reluctant Readers to give this one a try!

Let's get responding Rabble! Do series you start reading always deliver on the promise and stay interesting? Rabble Back!



Reading Rabble Review: Sovereign Book 2: "The Offering" by E.R. Arroyo

4 Enthusiastic Rabbles for a great finish to a wonderful YA action thriller!

"The End almost ALWAYS justifies the means"

Consumed by guilt from a war she started, Cori faces the aftermath of her destruction. The Mercy colony is in shambles as infection spreads and Dylan struggles to find a cure before it’s too late. Cori’s love and loyalties are put to the test when he asks her for the unthinkable. Now faced with impossible decisions, Cori must risk her friends and everything she’s ever cared about in order to put things right. She’ll go to unimaginable lengths to save the innocent, no matter the cost.

This second installment of the "Sovereign" series is a well written and very enjoyable book. I had great hopes for this series when I read the first one (see Reading Rabble Review: "Sovereign"). With the completion of the series in "The Offering", the author did not disappoint. I found in this book a much more involved plot with no feeling of being left without answers.

Our hero Cori has found herself in the strange role of both protector and protected. While the raid on the former colony of Antius was a success, Cori has both gained and lost a lot in the process. The Mercy colony has also lost it's leader and is in a shambles. Not only is Antius not destroyed but Mercy has lost it's only source of medicine for the sickness ravaging the colonies.  Determined to find a new source of medicine, Dylan makes a fateful request of Cori. Confused and distraught, Cori leaves the Mercy colony for the 'City' in a search of answers. In the company of the 'City Boys' Tyce and Eli, Cori struggles to find out where she came from and why she is who she is. 

This part of the book could easily have gone wrong if the author hadn't put the plot sequences in the right order. Thankfully it was done skillfully and with great success. We are given the answers we seek in a well thought out and easily believable series of events that left me breathlessly turning the pages! The development of the dramatic love triangle between Cori, Dylan, and Tyce, shows a true understanding of young love. Excitement, confusion, angst are all elements woven into the plot in a way that never became a detriment to the story which could have all too easily happened.

Of course, in a real hero's journey book, we should always be satisfied with the way that the hero meets with conflict. In this story Arroyo completely brought all the elements of a great story into being. I was very pleased with the way that Cori finished her journey. The ending, while extremely shocking and surprising in parts, was very satisfying and thought provoking.

Once again Reluctant Readers will find no trouble in enjoying this story. The ease of the vocabulary and the quick pace of the plot will ensure that everyone will be engaged from beginning to end. I had stated in the previous review that the next book might bring about an upgrade in the rating that I gave it. I most wholeheartedly am giving this book an enthusiastic 4 Rabbles with an R for Reluctant Readers. I look forward following and reviewing more books by E.R. Arroyo in the future.

Now it's time to Rabble back! Do you find the "hero's journey" story template satisfying? Let us hear from you.




Chattacon #40

A report from the tribal meeting in Chattanooga

More than just a choo-choo stop, Chattanooga is a comic and culture town. One of the big cons - Chattacon - happened last weekend and I was lucky enough to be there, meeting readers, cosplayers, and exhibitors. 

This robot just makes friends everywhere he goes!

This robot just makes friends everywhere he goes!

As usual, Crank the kid-bot was a hit. The success of this life-sized sixth-grader of the future is 1/3 my creation of the character in Hub's Adventures, 1/3 the friendly and visionary design of my illustrator Steve Porter, and 1/3 the craftsmanship and genius of the sculptor Dave Kehs, who built this guy from sketches on paper. Can I add a third for the fans who visit at the cons and love Crank? It's a real joy seeing kids' eyes light up when they Crank's light up. 

Crank's goal is to draw elementary-aged readers into the future world he and his best bio-friend Hub live in. Kids turn on to the science and technology of this bio-kid/kid-bot duo, whose love of engineering, space, science, and botology combine with their curiosity to get into and out of a spot of trouble on a regular basis. 

These guys also bought copies of Seti's Charm. 

These guys also bought copies of Seti's Charm. 

My other main attraction were the YA books I brought to the show. Teens and adults alike responded to The Delphi Trilogy and Seti's Charm. I love connecting readers with these books. They're exciting, action-packed, fun, and (I hope) smart. A lot readers have said they can't put the books down - which means I've done my job. 

Crank and I made the local news in Chattanooga.

Crank and I made the local news in Chattanooga.

The con-going crowds have really impressed me. These are smart, kind, generous, sometimes shy, but always enthusiastic people. Parents are brining their kids to share their love of pop culture, comics, and the slightly weird. Teens come in roving groups to show off their costumes, watch others, and talk about the fringe stuff they love. Oh -- and they're readers. They love books - even ones without pictures. 

AND ... Crank and Hub and I made the local news!

The YA fiction panel with D.G. Driver, Jonathan French, Adam-Troy Castro, M.G. Webb. A great chatt.

The YA fiction panel with D.G. Driver, Jonathan French, Adam-Troy Castro, M.G. Webb. A great chatt.

I attended a great YA lit panel featuring D.G. Driver, Jonathan French, Adam-Troy Castro, and M.G. Webb. It was a lively discussion. Here are some pullout quotes drawn from my real-time tweets: 

@DGDriverAuthor "#YAlit is an entry point but has no exit point age-wise.

@JFrenchAuthor: Harry Potter was lightning in a bottle for the YA crowd.

@adamtroycastro: "Current YA is very Hero oriented."

@mbweston: "A precocious 9 year old found a killing on page 3. Read the book in 3 days."

@DGDriverAuthor: "YA boomed with a growth in a 90's youth reading generation."

@JFrenchAuthor: "YA can be an entry point for adults into new genres."

@adamtroycastro: "For the very first time, series fiction is dominating the big movies."

@mbweston: "Audiobooks are growing because they're an accessible way to consume books."

@DGDriverAuthor: "Kids still like paper books."

@JFrenchAuthor "Adults who aren't strong readers like #YAlit, so it'll be king for a long time."

@adamtroycastro: "Series only work if you can keep the audience caring through to the end."

@mbweston: "With Harry Potter we learned that kids can handle long books."

@DGDriverAuthor "I think we're nearly done with the post-apocalyptic YA trend."

@JFrenchAuthor: "Boys aren't reading enough. We are losing them to video games."

@adamtroycastro: "I'm afraid to read my #kindle in the bathtub- #ZAP!"

@mbweston: "People might miss the Look-at-me-I'm-smart! shopping bags from book stores."

I also met several other vendors at Chattacon - authors and craftsmen - a delightful and generous group of people worth getting to know. I look forward to staying in touch with you guys. 

Keep visiting me at the shows and keep reading, everyone! I love sharing stories and passion with you. 

Indianapolis for Wizard World next week. Looking forward to a great show and meeting the speed-city fans. See you there!

Rabble back. Any other con-goers out there? I want to know where you're going.