In Spud: The Madness Continues, the madness of the Crazy Seven (Seven due to a loss of one boy in Spud; then Eight, when a new boy comes; then Seven,...moreIn Spud: The Madness Continues, the madness of the Crazy Seven (Seven due to a loss of one boy in Spud; then Eight, when a new boy comes; then Seven, when the new boy leaves; then Eight, when they induct Roger the Cat as an official member; then Six, when two of the boys get expelled; then Seven, when one of the boys gets back) really does continue. Spud is going to turn 15 during this year, is no longer in his first trembling year at the school, and has high hopes for both ball dropping and hair appearing in that same region. Despite his optimism (and the eventual voice-cracking, ball-dropping accomplishment), Spud soon finds that with both enemies and allies still at school, this year will not be any smoother. Still writing in his diary, the Spud of this year will chronicle his mother's plans to emigrate, The Wombat continuing to lose her mind, and his father's moonshine business; his first breakup, first ball hair, and first trip to England; the Crazy Eight's torture attempts at the Normal Seven (the new batch of first years); his actor career hitting a snag when he's cast as the Dove of Peace in a disastrous school play; and all the usual adventures of midnight swimming, cricket matches, brews, books, and broads, with just a hint more seriousness this year than last. (less)
Teenage girl thief. That should really be 'nough said, right?
Kat (Katarina Bishop) comes from a family of thieves. One of THE family of thieves (of wh...moreTeenage girl thief. That should really be 'nough said, right?
Kat (Katarina Bishop) comes from a family of thieves. One of THE family of thieves (of which there are about 7 in the world). In book 1, Heist Society, Kat tries to give up her thieving ways, only to end up pulling the biggest heist of her life with a full team of other teenage thieves in order to clear her father's name. In book 2, Kat has stayed true to her desire not to steal for stealing's sake. She has begun returning stolen goods taken from Jewish families during World War II. Only these she pulls these jobs on her own. No team, no backup, half the time no one knows where she is. That doesn't sit too well with certain members of her team/family, most notably the sexy possible love-interest Hale and Kat's cousin Gabrielle. Hale and Gabrielle are trying to badger Kat back into the family fold when Kat is contacted by an old woman and her grandson who beg her to make the heist of the century to return a stolen emerald to their family and restore their family's name.
When you head a team of teenagers that has stolen a Cezanne from one of the most heavily guarded museum exhibits in the world, in certain circles, your name becomes a famous one. Names are powerful things, like the name Visily Romani, one of the sacred names among thieves. When the old woman evokes the Romani name, saying he is the one who sent her to Kat, Kat knows she has to take this job.
But this is not just any emerald, and this is not just any job. Kat would have to steal the Cleopatra Emerald, the one rumored to be cursed by the doomed love between Cleopatra and Marc Antony, the one no one has ever successfully stolen, including Kat's very own Uncle Eddie. The one he's forbidden anyone in the family to steal. Kat knows she's on her own for this one...or is she really? Hale and Gabrielle have no intention of letting Kat go after the emerald by herself, and as they crisscross the globe, their team grows in numbers as faces old and new let Kat she doesn't have to be alone, on this job or any job in the future.
The plot thickens with a double-cross, a first kiss, a long-lost family member, and the customary high-class stakes, adventure, and excitement I've come to expect from an Ally Carter novel. Not super-fluffy, but also missing most of the super-teen-angst (thank goodness!), this is a light, enjoyable, well-written read. You don't need to have read book 1 to understand book 2, but it's an equally enjoyable read, so I highly recommend you dip into both.(less)
Jacob's grandfather used to tell him tales of a magical place. An island with a beautiful home where children with strange abilities lived, safe from...moreJacob's grandfather used to tell him tales of a magical place. An island with a beautiful home where children with strange abilities lived, safe from harm, forever. As Jacob gets older he begins to question his grandfather's stories - a girl who could float? A boy who had bees inside of him? What were the children "safe" from?
His parents told Jacob these were stories his grandfather made up to help explain away his childhood experiences during WWII. But how, then, to explain the photographs his grandfather showed him? They were old, yellowed and faded with age, way before digital photography was invented. Creepy scenes of children - an invisible boy, just a body with clothes and no head; a girl with two reflections instead of one; pictures that looked like circus acts but weren't. Jacob gets angry, thinking his grandfather is lying to him, and they never speak of the stories again.
Until Jacob is 16. And his grandfather calls him, scared, looking for his guns, swearing "it" is after him. Then his grandfather gets killed, and Jacob finds him, and Jacob sees the terror in the shadows in the woods. That's when Jacob begins to believe.
Suffering from a nervous breakdown following his grandfather's death, Jacob has screaming nightmares, is often afraid to leave the house, and begins seeing a psychiatrist. Thinking that confronting his fears might help him, Jacob and his father travel to the island where Jacob's grandfather was sent as a child during the war. Remote and isolated doesn't even begin to describe the place, but Jacob is fixated on finding the house from his grandfather's memories, and possibly a woman called Miss Peregrine, one letter from whom was found among Jacob's grandfather's things.
Piecing together stories from local townspeople, Jacob is told the house was bombed, and everyone in it perished, except for one young man (Jacob's grandfather) who left the day after the bombing. But if they all died, how had Jacob's grandfather received a letter from a woman who lived there 15 years later?
When Jacob finally finds the house, it has clearly been abandoned for a very long time. With more questions than answers, Jacob gathers his courage to explore inside. He finds a trunk containing photographs like the ones his grandfather used to show him. Going through them carefully, Jacob suddenly hears a noise. "Abe?" asks a girl's voice. Abe was his grandfather. "Abe?"
And so, Jacob finds the children. And finds the answers. And comes face-to-face with the scary and awful and magical truth. By the end of this first book in what is clearly a series, Jacob must come to a life-changing decision: does he belong in the world of the children, forever?(less)
They thought the battle was over when they left the maze, but it soon becomes clear they've only moved on to stage 2 of these twisted games, designed...moreThey thought the battle was over when they left the maze, but it soon becomes clear they've only moved on to stage 2 of these twisted games, designed to test the Gladers beyond their already stretched limits. Thomas wakes up on the morning after their "rescue" to find Teresa gone, a new boy in her place, and the Gladers in a panic as Cranks try to break into their enclosure.
Cranks are zombie-like creatures that have been infected with a disease the Gladers later find out has infected the world. The new boy, Aris, says he's from Group B - a group of all girls, except for him. Oh, and Aris can speak in Thomas's mind, just like Teresa. Slowly Thomas and the Gladers piece together that there are two groups out there, and they're both competing for the same prize: The Gladers are told they've all been infected by the disease, but if they make it from point A to point B in the allotted amount of time, they will be given a cure.
Sounds simple enough until they're plunged into total blackness where they can't see the deathly beheading orbs, then shocked by the almost constant sunlight battering down on them as they struggle to run across a desert, all with dwindling food and water resources. Lightning and rain storm burns them while they run toward a city - toward friend or foe, they're not sure, but they know they need to get out of the killing rain. In the city they meet Brenda and Jorge who promise to lead them safely through the Crank-infested city in exchange for the antidote, but first the group gets separated and both factions have to battle their way toward their destination point.
Less gruesome than The Maze Runner though still deadly, The Scorch Trials, puts Thomas, and all the characters, through a more bitter emotional journey, complete with deception, betrayal, and dreams/flashbacks Thomas has to a strange time and place that almost make it seem like he might have had a hand in creating all of this torture. But for what greater purpose? Who can he trust? And as before, he has to wonder what Teresa means when she mind-speaks to him, "WICKED is good."(less)