Review: Spin the Golden Light Bulb by Jackie Yeager

spinthegoldenlightbulbSpin the Golden Light Bulb by Jackie Yeager

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: The Crimson Five #1

Date Published: January 9th, 2018

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Pages: 280 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: It’s the year 2071 and eleven year-old Kia Krumpet is determined to build her 67 inventions, but she won’t have the opportunity to unless she earns a spot at PIPS, the Piedmont Inventor’s Prep School. Kia, who has trouble making friends at school, has dreamed of winning the Piedmont Challenge and attending PIPS ever since she learned that her Grandma Kitty won the very first Piedmont Challenge. After she and four of her classmates are selected to compete for a spot at PIPS, they travel by aero-bus to Camp Piedmont to solve a task against forty-nine other state teams to earn their place at the best inventor’s school in the country.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The first part of this review is completely spoiler-free. There are very minor and vague spoilers in the second part of this review.

Spin the Golden Light Bulb is a debut middle grade novel centering around the brilliant minds of a group of young inventors. It touches on topics such as teamwork, forgiveness, and loyalty, and how to include those values in the achievement of personal goals in the area of one’s passion. It encourages having a mind that is open to all possibilities and to the acceptance of other people. Images of strong relationships—both with friends and family—and learning to come together to achieve a goal in a fair and inclusive way emanate from every page. This is a delightfully wholesome novel for young readers that stresses some incredibly important and positive messages.

In this novel, we are transported to the year 2071, and follow an eleven-year-old girl named Kia Krumpet. Kia is desperate to earn a spot at Piedmont Inventor’s Prep School—or PIPS—so she can begin working on her sixty-seven inventions. But in order to secure her place at PIPS, she must first win a Golden Light Bulb in the Piedmont Challenge, a feat that has not yet been accomplished by any student at Crimson Elementary. If she doesn’t, she will have to choose one category of study to dedicate the next six years of her schooling to, none of which would allow her to achieve her dreams.

After Kia and four of her classmates end up winning the chance to compete for enrollment in PIPS, they travel to Camp Piedmont, where the next phase of the challenge is to begin. There, everyone competing is split into groups and are given a task that they need to solve through the creation of a unique invention. Kia’s group—The Crimson Five—must contend with teams from forty-nine other states and build something that will prove that they have the talent necessary to earn a place at the best inventor’s school in the entire country.

Forming strong, healthy relationships with others is a key part of this narrative. There are many internal obstacles that Kia and the others must overcome in order to accept each other for the way they are. In addition, we are shown the importance of being one’s self and staying true to one’s values. There were times where I felt that Kia was maybe being a bit too immature compared to how she presents herself most of the time. However, this ended up highlighting how much she changes and matures throughout the course of the narrative.

Yeager’s writing itself is very strong and easy to read. Her voice is absolutely perfect for the age of the readers this novel is meant for. She does a brilliant job of vividly creating a fun and distinctive world that stimulates the imagination. The technology is very unique and exciting to envision—almost magical. Yeager’s characters are multi-dimensional and clearly evolve through all the obstacles they must face. The way she portrays the team gradually learning to work together as well as forming trust and, ultimately, close friendships is fantastic.

One problem that I had with the plot of the novel was with the believability of the team’s first approach to creating their major invention. These kids are supposed to be some of the brightest minds in the country, capable of not only building, but imagining all types of gadgets and groundbreaking technology that will power the advancement of society.

Kia’s previous ideas for her own personal inventions are complex and innovative, and they show off her natural skill and remarkable intellect. However, what the team eventual decides on for their major invention is honestly pretty disappointing. It just felt as if they were not showing much if any of the amazing talent that they all clearly possess. It’s hard to believe that their big idea would manifest in the form that it does.

Now, please bear with me for this next part. I do realize how silly this is going to sound since this is a middle grade novel, so I apologize in advance.

I’m left feeling conflicted over my biggest issue with the plot—the ultimate invention they create for the contest. At first it feels like a really neat idea, giving us a unique way to look into the past and learn in detail about any person in history. Being able to essentially bring the past back to life and explore any individual’s role in society would be incredible. However, the invention itself quickly takes a turn for the worse, feeling quite creepy and disturbing rather than uniquely fascinating.

There is a fine line between innocently gaining knowledge and invading privacy, and this quickly descends into the latter category. It becomes particularly concerning when Kia and the rest of the team use their invention multiple times to access records of things like private phone conversations and incredibly personal information.

Everyone’s right to privacy is a very topical discussion, and this novel is an eerily realistic potential future. This story raises the question of what parts of our lives are acceptable to be made public in a database and what parts should be kept out. It delves into an extremely morally gray area under the guise of a fun and innovative creation by a group of highly intelligent young minds.

On top of all this, they don’t actually come up with any of the real mechanics of the invention—they end up taking a previous team’s creation and dressing it up a little bit. That left me feeling very disappointed, as it completely wipes out the most important messages Yeager is trying to convey through this story. The importance of thinking outside the box, being creative, and achieving a goal through teamwork cannot possibly be shown through what they end up doing. Even the initial project they come up with at least demonstrated those themes much better.

Are these things that a young reader in this book’s target age range would notice? Most likely not. These thoughts are just a mixture of my typical over-thinking and my admittedly very cynical adult view of the world. I am definitely not the right audience for this particular novel and I completely realize that.

Overall, this is a good book for children in the range of maybe eight to eleven. It promotes topics that are essential to learn from a young age, and this story is an imaginative and entertaining way to encourage people to open their minds to all possibilities and understand that they all have the ability to do great things. This is not a novel that will necessarily be enjoyable to people of any age, but I would recommend this to young readers due to the positivity of most of the messages at the center of this story.

3.5 TARDISes

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Guest Post: Author J.M. Sullivan

Today’s post is a guest post by the lovely J.M. Sullivan, author of Alice (The Wanderland Chronicles #1), which will be released on May 16th. I am so excited and honored to have this chance to work with her to promote her debut novel! Please make sure to check out J.M. and her novel on social media. My full review of Alice will be posted on Thursday!

JM Sullivan - smallHi everyone!

My name is J.M. Sullivan and I am beyond excited to introduce you to the wonders of Wanderland. After all, when I’m not busy teaching middle schoolers, wrangling my two small children, or supervising my cats’ antics, it’s my favorite place to be!

Even though I teach Science, I have always loved reading and writing. I have dabbled in several different projects, but nothing ever stuck until ALICE, which always makes me giggle. Because, see, the idea for Alice sort of hit me out of the blue. I was getting ready for bed one night after watching the latest horror movie on my husband’s Netflix list (we had been on a zombie kick), and the Red Queen’s iconic line flashed through my mind. You know the one I’m talking about: ‘Off with their heads!’

moretroubleWell, as any zombie aficionado knows, decapitation is one of the most effective methods of dealing with our undead friends, and it all just sort of clicked! I knew that I was going to do an Alice retelling with zombies. Within ten minutes I had a working outline of what I wanted each character’s role to look like and how I wanted to execute it. Then, it was time for the real work.

Going into ALICE, I knew that most importantly, I wanted to stay true to Carroll’s work. I’ve read books that claim they are retellings before but really only share a character name or maybe a place. I did not want that to be something said about my book.

catsSo, I went to the store and picked up a new copy of Alice in Wonderland and proceeded to tear it up. (Seriously, that poor book looks like a college textbook) I read the story and
used that as a guide to help my plot arc. Even my section titles are the names of chapters from the book. If I ever had a question about a name or how a character might respond, I went back to Wonderland. (Hopefully it shows).

Once I had my reference base squared I got to do the fun part—writing! With my set-up, I had a loose outline for a plot with tons of ways to work in Wonderland twists. It was so much fun seeing how Alice Carroll reacted to being placed in Wanderland and how the other characters influenced her story. I think that’s what I like the most about retellings, you can feel the magic of the original working itself into your own story. It’s a really cool feeling.

Alice Cover EditFinally, after three months of obsessive writing, I had my draft. It was the first completed manuscript I’ve ever had, and I was ready to send it out. At least I thought so. My publishing journey… oh man. But THAT is a story for another day. Needless to say, I found my AMAZING publishing company (shout out to Pen Name Publishing- woot!), and they shared my vision of bringing Alice to life.

So now, here I am, a little over a year later from the day I started writing, and Alice is about to be released into the world! It was a wild ride, but I honestly wouldn’t change any of it. I have been so blessed and learned so much, now my only hope is that Alice can mean as much to someone else as she does to me. Maybe it will be you! (I really hope so 😀 )

Thank you so much guys (especially to Ariana for so graciously inviting me to share her page), and of course,

Happy Reading!

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J.M. Sullivan is a Science Teacher by day, and an author by night. Although known to dabble in adulting, J.M. is a big kid at heart who still believes in true love, magic, and most of all, the power of coffee. If you would like to connect for a healthy dose of sparkle and positivity, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan.

Top 10 Tuesday – November 3rd, 2015

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for the first Top 10 Tuesday list of November. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is either the top ten debut authors who have you looking forward to their sophomore novel, or the top ten sophomore novels that you loved just as much if not more than the author’s debut. I have had to put my own little spin on this topic because I actually have not read many debut authors recently. I have a sizeable number of 2014 and 2015 debuts on my TBR, but I’ve only gotten to a few thus far. However, in the past year or so, I have also discovered a lot of new to me authors whose debuts are the only works I have read by them.

So for today’s list, I’m going to list the top seven authors who are either recent debut authors I’m anticipating the sophomore novel of, or authors with already published sophomore novels that I am dying to read. The final three will be authors I’ve read whose sophomore novels I think are as good or even better than their debuts.

Now that we are all sufficiently confused, let’s jump straight into these lists! 🙂

Authors Whose Sophomore Novels I’m Dying to Read

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1. Amy Zhang – Falling into Place

Amy Zhang is a 2014 debut author. I read this novel at the end of last year and was extremely impressed by it. Not only was it a very well told and skillfully constructed story, but I was also stunned to find out that this was written by a teenager! Her next novel is coming out in March and I am very interested to read more of her work.

2. William Ritter – Jackaby

Jackaby is a 2014 debut novel and I read it back at the beginning of this year. It is one of my favorite novels I have read in 2015 so far, and I’ve been very much anticipating the sequel, Beastly Bones, which was just recently released. It is definitely going to be one of my next reads.

3. Shannon Lee Alexander – Love and Other Unknown Variables

This is a 2014 debut novel that I read late last year and completely fell in love with. It took me by surprise because it is not the type of novel that I would generally enjoy, or even think to give a try to be honest. But it was fantastic and I loved Shannon Lee Alexander’s writing and storytelling style. I’m not sure if there is a sophomore novel in the works, but I certainly hope there is.

4. Allie Brosh – Hyperbole and a Half

I read this last year and absolutely loved it; this is one of the funniest books I have ever read. There is supposedly a second novel coming out (Solutions and Other Problems), but the date keeps getting pushed back, so I’m not sure if or when it is coming. At least I still have her blog to tide me over!

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5. Victoria Aveyard – Red Queen

I feel like I have been talking about Red Queen and Victoria Aveyard a lot lately; and I know that is strange because I was not all that thrilled with the novel. However, I am still eager to read more of Victoria Aveyard’s work, because I thought her writing style was excellent. I’m still trying to decide if I will be reading the next novel in the series, Glass Sword, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be giving it a try at some point.

6. Marissa Meyer – Cinder

Marissa Meyer is not a recent debut author; Cinder came out in 2012. However, I just discovered her last year, and began The Lunar Chronicles at the beginning of this year. So far, I have only read this first novel, but I adored it and I cannot wait to continue on with the rest of the books (something I will be doing quite soon!).

7. Marie Lu – Legend

Marie Lu is another author whose first book is not a recent release, but so far I have only read her debut novel, Legend, after discovering it last year. I was hooked immediately and I soon got a box set of the entire trilogy. I need to get to the next book as soon as possible; I am dying to see what happens in the final two novels!

Sophomore Novels That Are As Good Or Better Than Debuts

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1. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This entire series is (obviously) absolutely fantastic all the way through. The Chamber of Secrets just so happens to be not only one of my favorite books ever, but my favorite of the series; it definitely had to make this list!

2. Suzanne Collins – Catching Fire

This is by far my favorite dystopian trilogy that I have ever read, and I’ve always found it incredibly hard to pick which of the novels is my favorite. Catching Fire was incredible, and is at the very least just as good as The Hunger Games. However, this may potentially be my favorite of the series; it’s just so hard to choose!

3. Brian Selznick – Wonderstruck

This is Brian Selznick’s second full novel and it is equally as good as his first, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. In fact, all three of his novels are absolutely spectacular; each one is a beautiful work of art. He is a very talented writer and artist, and easily makes this list!

Let me know in the comments which debut authors you’ve been enjoying this year and which sophomore novels you are dying to get your hands on!

-Ariana

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