I was fortunate to receive an advance reading copy of this novel. Here is my review below which contains some very minor spoilers. Please check out myI was fortunate to receive an advance reading copy of this novel. Here is my review below which contains some very minor spoilers. Please check out my blog (http://libraryladyhylary.blogspot.com) for more reviews!:
After Ren’s memory loss following his rescue in Tiger’s Quest, Kelsey must work to make the prince fall in love with her all over again if she is going to keep her growing feelings for his brother, Kishan, at bay. Matters are complicated when Mr. Kadam unravels the next portion of their journey: retrieving Durga’s mystical pearl necklace located in the mysterious Seventh Pagoda. In order the reach the Pagoda, the group must travel by sea, seeking instruction from the five dragons who know how to reach the necklace. The journey will become increasingly more risky, but not quite as dangerous as the growing tension between Kelsey and Ren as she becomes closer to Kishan.
As is often the case with series, some installments are better than others. This third book in Houck’s best-selling Tiger’s Curse series is, in many ways, the most enjoyable yet. The characters have already been firmly established and Houck has done an excellent job of acquainting the reader with the setting and ins and outs of the often complicated journey of Kelsey, Ren and Kishan. Although the next phase of the quest to break the centuries long curse is even more elaborate than in the previous two novels, it is also more original and entertaining. The love-triangle between Kelsey and the two princes is really at the forefront of the storyline, and Houck does a good job of creating a growing sense of tension throughout the novel. Coping with Ren’s memory loss was an excellent way to keep the romance between Ren and Kelsey interesting. Houck also introduces other characters that compete with Kelsey for Ren’s affections and vice versa, adding another layer to the thickening plot. Overall, this third installment in the series greatly improves upon the second, and leaves the reader with a cliffhanger that will surely keep anticipation for the fourth novel running high.
I was a bit hard on the second installment in this series, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed this third novel quite a bit. I still find some elements of the story to be a bit on the melodramatic or cheesy side, but I think that, overall, the author does a good job of mixing romance with adventure. I really grew to like Kelsey more in this novel, and think that Houck has done a good job of developing the characters. I am really looking forward to the next novel....more
Josh Peshik's parents don't make a lot of money, so when they have the opportunity to purchase an old but spacious mansion they take it. The trouble is, the mansion is tilted. The floors, the furniture, the walls, all slope three degrees inward. Even more strange are the equations, formulas and ideas scribbled all over the walls throughout the house. The Peshiks are determined to make the best of their new house, however, and Josh and his little brother Aaron, along with their mom, dad and grandpa, move in. What follows is a series of adventures and strange occurrences involving the various secrets contained within Tilton House. From talking rats, to a dimmer switch that makes the house disappear, living in the mansion makes for one interesting summer vacation. Despite all of these odd happenings, Josh wants to learn more about the mysterious man who built the mansion and what all of the scribbling mean. Will he be able to uncover the truth about Tilton House and all of its eccentricities?
Told in a series of interconnected vignettes, The Tilting House is a fun and original tale where the setting, a mysterious old mansion, is a prominent character in its own right. Immediately after beginning the novel, readers will be intrigued by the oddness of Tilton House. The sloping floors, the crazy scientific scribbling all over the wall, and the magical discoveries of talking rats, powder that makes things grow, and a dimmer switch that makes the mansion disappear. Hidden within all the mansion's eccentricities is a decades old love story that explains the truth behind Tilton House. Tweens will enjoy this quirky novel. The way Llewellyn has organized the chapters makes for an interesting read. There is somewhat of a plot string that continues throughout the novel, but each chapter chronicles a different event that Josh and Aaron experience. The conclusion of the novel is very satisfying but also leaves the story open for sequels.
I found this book to be delightful. The idea of a house that slopes leaves many opportunities for fun storylines, and Llewellyn took advantage of them very well. I really liked the romance that Josh and Aaron discovered that was responsible for a lot of the eccentricities of Tilton House. I wouldn't be surprised if Llewellyn wrote some sequels to this story and I look forward to seeing them.
This illustrated novel tells the story of Bad Kitty and her bathing experiences. The primary purpose of the story is to instruct the reader on the proper methods of bathing a cat, Bad Kitty being the example "specimen." Chapters include the various steps of the bathing process, from preparing the bath, locating kitty, getting kitty into the water, and after the bath. Information is also given on feline anatomy and behavior: why cats lick themselves, the science behind a hairball and exactly why cats hate water. Bad Kitty is shown in various stages of the bath process, along with her "friend" Puppy. The conclusion of the novel contains an interview with author Nick Bruel about his life and career.
Bad Kitty Gets a Bath is one of several books in the Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty chapter book series and is a hilarious and fun but educational story about everyone's favorite naughty feline. Cat-lovers of all ages will enjoy and identify with the dreaded cat bath experience described in the book. Bruel's illustrations perfectly compliment the text, showing exactly how bad Bad Kitty is. The story's ironic and clever humor will hold a definite appeal for tweens. Hidden within the book are science facts about feline anatomy and behavior, adding some substance to the otherwise light-hearted tale. The interview with Bruel at the story's conclusion is also perfect for tween readers who might have an interest in creating a Bad Kitty tale of their own. Overall, this story is a hilarious must-read for tween cat lovers.
Bad Kitty Gets a Bath is one of the most hilarious books for children I have read in a long time. As a cat owner, I can completely identify with the experience of bathing Bad Kitty. Nick Bruel's illustrations are laugh-out-loud funny. This chapter book would be fun to read aloud to a classroom or group of tweens.
Nathan Cobbe's life changed forever the day his mother was tragically killed in a bus accident. Now he lives with his father, Henry, in a dingy apartment in a run-down project slated to be demolished at anytime. Nathan's life is humdrum: he attends school but doesn't really pay attention, his father is making him take physics review at a local community college to prepare for exams, and his only friend, Moll, can't seem to get through to him. One night, however, during his physics review, Nathan meets someone that takes him on a strange adventure through time: an enormous Beefeater named Bartleby who seems to know quite a bit about Nathan's life. It seems that Henry is inadvertently travelling through time, trying to stop Nathan's mother from getting hit by the bus that ended her life. What Nathan learns, however, is that some things in life, and time, are meant to happen, and that changing them can alter the world in unimaginable ways. With Bartleby's help, Nathan must stop his father from setting time spinning by changing the past, before it's too late.
This unique story is British author Jason Cockcroft's first novel, and provides an interesting and cerebral read for tweens that will get them thinking about topics they might not be familiar with. American readers will likely have to familiarize themselves with certain important terms Cockcroft uses to advance the plot, like Beefeater, another name for the Yeomen Warders who guard the tower of London, and Routemasters, or red double-decker buses. Once the British vocabulary is understood, the story is very gripping. Nathan's adventures through time are not as exciting or magical as other literary time-travellers. His father is trying, inadvertently, to stop the tragic events that cause the death of Nathan's mother. Nathan is torn between his desire to set time on the right course and his own grief at the loss of his mother. The relationship between Nathan and his father Henry extends far below the surface interactions that are common in other novels for tweens, giving young readers a chance to truly think about how father and son might bond after the loss of a mother and wife. The character of Bartleby the Beefeater is akin to a large, eccentric and mischievous Fairy Godmother. At first, the reader isn't sure what to make of him, but as the story progresses, he becomes quite likable. Overall, Counter Clockwise is an unusual story that will appeal to tweens of both genders and of varying degrees of interest in the science fiction genre.
This was a very interesting read, and I was surprised by the depth of the emotions evoked from the story. I learned some new tidbits about British culture and enjoyed Cockcroft's writing style. I look forward to more works from this new author. ...more
Franny Flanders is about to begin 7th grade and the worst thing has happened: in an effort to "go blonde," Franny's hair has accidentally been died orange by her best friend. Whoops! Luckily, Franny's Granny is able to reverse the damage using a mysterious oily mixture. Franny appreciates Granny's efforts, but things turn weird when Franny spends the first day of 7th grade speaking her mind: something no middle schooler in the precarious position of "clique border crosser" should do. Franny questions her Granny and discovers the truth: the hair reversal mixture was a recipe from a magical Hindu box Granny received from a mysterious monk in Bhutan. As Franny learns more about the powers of the box, she decides to use more magical recipes to fix things in her life. First, she must reunite her two best friends, Kate and Joey. The three were inseparable in elementary school, but middle school caused Kate to become the leader of the "beeks," the band-geek clique, and Joey to emerge as head of the "poms" and "peaks," the school's popular cheerleaders. After she fixes her social life, Franny takes on more challenges: getting her evil English teacher to chill-out, fixing the school's cafeteria food, and ridding her father of his pesky new girlfriend in an effort to reunite her newly divorced parents. But how far can magic go to correct everything that is wrong in Franny's world? Franny is about to discover that you can't mess around with the universe, and that karma really bites.
Chock full of current language, pop-culture references, and humor, Karma Bites is the perfect "fun-read" for the tween girl of 2011. Franny is a very likable character, and the fact that she's flawed makes her very relatable. Her adventures answer the question of what would happen if magic could fix all the wrongs of middle school. Tucked into Franny's dealings with Hindu boxes, magical recipes, and hippie Grannies, however, is a valuable message: Franny eventually learns that she holds the power to making her life good, even if it's not perfect. Authors Kramer and Thomas use their literary prowess to make the narrative sound as it's coming from the mouth of a 12-year-old girl. Franny frequently uses fun phrases like "flip me out" to react to different situations. The writing style will hold definite appeal to readers. Apart from the entertaining aspects of the novel, Franny does deal with some serious issues that many tweens experience. Her parents are recently divorced and her grandmother has moved in to help her mother take care of her and her little brothers. Franny is clearly upset about the separation, and believes that her mother and father will get back together. She must also contend with the cutthroat social politics of middle school. Elodie, her school's "mean girl," is a vicious bully who enforces a rigid caste system dividing the student body into their rightful place. Her best friends, Joey and Kate, are now enemies and focus on who Franny spends more time with, rather than on Franny's well-being. Tweens will be able to relate with these challenges on a very real level, despite the presence of magic. Overall, Karma Bites is an effervescent book that young readers are sure to enjoy.
Although it is somewhat "light" fare, I really enjoy Karma Bites and would recommend it to tween girls as a fun read. I was impressed from the start with the authors' writing style. It's often difficult for adults to write in "tween" language without sounding corny or like they're trying too hard. Kramer and Thomas pulled it off perfectly, creating a entertaining narrative that tweens will enjoy. I will definitely keep an eye out for my titles from this duo. ...more
This ghost story follows the lives of those who have visited the Fischer House on the Isle of Wight off the English coast, those who have survived their visit anyway. The novel begins with Nick Mason, former military operative, who is deeply concerned for his younger sister. It seems that she and her friends, all philosophy students studying the paranormal, visited the mysterious Fischer House and encountered something so awful, one has committed suicide. Mason's sister seems to have slipped into a perpetual state of paranoia bordering on hysteria, and the other students are following-suit. Seeking to solve the mystery behind his sister's condition, Mason contacts journalist Paul Seaton. It seems that Seaton visited the Fischer House as a college student himself, and lived to tell the tale, though not without his own sense of unease and paranoia. Together, Mason and Seaton decide to uncover the truth behind what seems to be haunting the girls, and discover a horrifying tale dating back to the 1920s. As Mason's sister declines more and more, the hunt to stop whatever is stalking her grows more desperate.
British writer, F.G. Cottam, has created a dark, gothic ghost story in The House of Lost Souls that will appeal to adults and teens alike. The novel begins with a sense of foreboding and mystery: something terrible lurks in the Fischer House, something that drives anyone who visits the house insane with terror. After visiting the house, one of four college friends has committed suicide. The other three seem ready to follow suit. Trying to discover what it is that is haunting these students, as well as journalist Paul Seaton, enthrall the reader. The ghostly experiences of those who have visited the Fischer House, as well as the fact that the haunting continues long after they have returned to their normal lives, will appeal to teens. Fans of the horror/monster/ghost genre will enjoy the spooky happenings in The House of Lost Souls. One factor that makes the story appropriate for older teens is the lack of gore, language, or sexual situations that are often better suited for adult horror novels. Cottam prefers the psychological scare, and doesn't need blood and guts to achieve his goal. Another factor that will appeal to horror fans is the presence of historical horror and occult novelist Dennis Wheatley as a character in the novel. The House of Lost Souls is an excellently crafted and truly creepy ghost story; one that is sure to be loved by teens and adults alike.
This is definitely a book for older teens or adults as it does get quite scary at times, but for those who can handle it, you're in for a treat! I loved the mix of history and fiction, they worked together well to make an excellent ghost story. Can't wait for F.G. Cottam's next novel, Dark Echo!
Junior in high school, Lara Ardeche, has the perfect life. Beautiful, popular and thin, Lara has spent her life competing in and winning beauty pageants. Her beautiful, thin mother and handsome father adore her, as does her cool boyfriend Jett and her best friend, Molly. Lara's life becomes even better when she is elected homecoming queen, despite the fact that she's just a junior. In the months following her homecoming victory, however, Lara's life becomes a living hell as she inexplicably begins to gain weight very rapidly. As she grows bigger and bigger, her popular friends abandon her, and Lara tries everything to get back to her former thin self. Matters are only worsened by her "perfect" parents who constantly pressure her to diet. After rigorous medical testing, Lara finally discovers that a rare metabolic disorder is the cause of her weight gain, a disorder for which there is no cure. As Lara's life continues to fall apart, she discovers that perhaps things were not as perfect as she had imagined, even when she was thin.
Life in the Fat Lane provides a unique view of the teenage obsession with appearance as Lara Ardeche experiences both sides of the coin. Beginning the novel as a thin, beautiful and popular homecoming queen, the reader sees the benefits of fitting in with society's ideal image. As Lara gains weight rapidly, eventually ending up a size 24, the emotional torment she experiences illustrates the loneliness of being "different." As the reader transitions with Lara from beauty queen to "freak," Bennett takes the audience on the heartbreaking journey with her character. Secondary to Lara's weight disorder but equally heartbreaking is the breakdown of Lara's parents' marriage. Lara's mother provides a clear image of the future Lara may have had as a thin, beautiful woman, particularly the fact that this future is far from perfect. Overall, Life in the Fat Lane is a realistic look at what happens when the lie of perfection fails, and how to overcome the realization that apperances aren't everything.
I enjoyed this novel quite a bit because it took a different perspective on a common topic: dealing with obesity in high school. Instead of having spent her life overweight, Lara Ardeche transitions from beautiful and perfect to living "in the fat lane." I thought this was interesting, and I'm sure will resonate with readers who have experienced weight fluctuations.
Tech-savvy, gamer Marcus Yallow is a high school senior in a San Francisco of the very near future. Constantly trying to evade his school's many security systems to play hooky, Marcus with his three best friends, Darryl, Vanessa (Van) and Jose Luis (Jolu), spends his time playing alternatate reality games and jaunting around his beloved city streets. One ordinary day, however, Marcus, Darryl, Van and Jolu get caught up in the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack in US history, and are taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). After being brutally interrogated, Marcus, Van and Jolu are released from prison and warned to never speak of their experiences as prisoners of the DHS. The return to their lives in San Francisco, only to find that the city is now overrun by menacing security precautions implemented by the DHS. Determined to expose the crimes committed by the DHS and thwart their efforts to "prevent future terrorist attacks," Marcus begins an all-out cyber war on the corrupt government agency. Using his computer hacking skills, new found love interest, Ange, and an army of high school students, Marcus delves deeper and deeper into his web of revenge. Will he be able to win this war, or will the government maintain its vice grip on lives of its citizens?
Full to the brim with techno jargon, pop culture references, and "leet," Cory Doctorow's Little Brother is an entertaining, if somewhat far-fetched, story about how far governments can and should go to keep their citizens safe. The story is told in the first person by Marcus Yallow, high school senior and generally cocky computer hacker, who involuntarily becomes involed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after a large-scale terrorist attack on his beloved San Francisco. Bay area residents will appreciate Marcus' references to San Francisco streets and neighborhoods, and Doctorow's descriptions of the city are clever to the point that it almost becomes as important a character as Marcus himself. Equally as compelling are Doctorow's detailed descriptions of the methods Marcus uses to thwart the DHS, making the novel almost a lesson in computer technology and security systems. By the end of the story, the reader will have a clear understanding of "arphids," "gait tracking software," "Linux," and much more. Apart from the obvious mischief and havoc Marcus causes by exploiting his computer skills, the novel also acts as a critical examination of the application of these technologies in monitoring the behaviors of American citizens. Even before the terrorist attacks, it is clear that the world Marcus lives in is one of heavy surveillance. Using the experiences of his characters, Doctorow shows a very possible future of security taken to the extreme. Overall, the novel is a very relevant and thought-provoking read for teens and adults alike.
This thought-provoking novel, though a little far-fetched, is still an enjoyable read for teens. It has a huge technology component that many readers will enjoy, and the San Francisco bay area setting is very interesting as well. The novel will definitely resonate with budding conspiracy theorists as well.
Eleven-year-old Melissa lives with her mother, Sharlene, and her four-year-old brother, Cody, in a cramped apartment. Melissa doesn't trust Sharlene, a recovering alcoholic, and is haunted by memories of a terrible fire that destroyed the trailer her family shared with Sharlene's former live-in boyfriend, Darren. When a family friend offers Sharlene a lakeshore cabin to stay in for the summer, Melissa is skeptical. Sharlene, Melissa and Cody travel to the remote location; Melissa is annoyed by her mother's enthusiasm for the woods, the cabin, and the canoe she assures Melissa she will love paddling around the lake. Shortly after arriving, Melissa meets Alice, a girl her age, while exploring the island in the middle of the lake. Alice seems strange, but Melissa finds the fantasy world she creates to be interesting. As she spends more time with her mother and makes her first true friend in Alice, Melissa learns that holding onto her anger might not be worth the effort. And, as she learns more about Alice, Melissa wonders if perfect families exist only in fairy tales.
This surprisingly poignant novel provides an utterly realistic look into the life of a girl who, through tragedy and hardship, lost the innocence of childhood too early. The fragile relationship between Melissa and her mother, Sharlene, is at times heartbreaking. Sharlene desperately tries to make up for past wrongs, and Melissa resists her at every turn. Their time at Flycatcher Lake, despite Melissa's annoyance at having to spend her summer in a remote cabin, proves to be a therapeutic experience that brings the little family closer together. The character of Alice is also quite interesting. It is clear from the beginning that something is not quite right with the unusual girl. The descriptions of her family appear too perfect, and Melissa catches her in some lies early in their relationship. When Melissa discovers that Alice's life is even less ideal than her own, it presents a lesson not only for her, but for the reader, that the "grass is always greener" notion, in reality, never pans out. This is just one of the reasons why After the Fire is a wonderful novel for young readers. Although it covers some sophisticated topics, alcoholism, neglect, death, Citra does an excellent job of making the story appropriate for younger readers. A very thought-provoking book for tweens and teens.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. Melissa is an extremely realistic and honest main character, especially for a story written for `tweens. Her anger at her mother, Sharlene, is very real, and many readers will, unfortunately, be able to identify with the situations Melissa experiences. After the Fire touches on some very advanced topics, but does so in a way that makes them appropriate for young readers. The novel definitely creates some talking points between parents/teachers and `tweens about alcoholism, neglect, death and family relationships. I would recommend this novel for readers interested in a realistic story.
Katrina Katrell lives with a distant relative, Mrs. Krabone, who doesn't understand why the young girl is constantly daydreaming about adventures and mythical creatures. One day when Katrina and Mrs. Krabone are on the subway, Katrina is sure she sees a large, hairy creature wearing a tie and walking around the underground tunnels. Mrs. Krabone is finally fed up, and contacts Doctor LeFang to "cure" Katrina with his horrible Cranial Puncturing Mincer of Mind. Katrina catches wind of the plan, and manages to escape. By chance, she meets up with Morty, a Zorgle, and the very same creature she spotted earlier on the subway. It appears that Morty has been given a quest to find out what happened to the Zorgles of Zorgamazoo, an underground country village where the inhabitants have vanished. Morty is quite timid, but his new friend, Katrina, convinces him to proceed on what she's sure will be a grand adventure for them both.
Told entirely in rhyming couplets, Zorgamazoo is a creative and entertaining story for readers of all ages. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Weston's rhymes is that they never grow stale or seem forced. He does have to employ some made-up words (a nod to Dr. Seuss), but, in general, he manages to rhyme ordinary phrases that `tweens will be able to understand. The plot of the novel is also very clever, with nods to influential authors like Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket, but in an original package. Younger readers might be frightened by Mrs. Krabone and Doctor LeFang, who want to lobotomize Katrina. Some of the illustrations in the book, such as those of the Octomabots, a machine that is a cross between a bee and an octopus, and of Doctor LeFang's Cranial Puncturing Mincer of Mind, might be frightening as well. Other aspects of the plot, however, like Winnie the Windingo who constantly cries, and an ogre who is extremely attached to his glass eye, will lighten the mood. Overall, Zorgamazoo is a fun novel for readers who are interested in something a little bit different. It would also make a great read-aloud for a classroom or group of children or `tweens.
I had heard a great deal about this award-winning novel, and wasn't disappointed in how clever and unique it is amongst recent literature for `tweens. Weston's rhymes were simply amazing. While reading the book I couldn't help but be constantly reminded of the work that must have gone into composing an entire novel, completely in rhyme. For me, the storyline played second fiddle to Weston's literary craftsmanship. I did enjoy the novel quite a bit, and would definitely recommend it to `tweens as well as teachers seeking a fun read-aloud.
Coraline Jones isn't thrilled when her parents move her into an apartment in an old Victorian house. Her neighbors, two elderly women named Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, and an eccentric old man, Mr. Bobo, don't help her to feel at home either. Coraline's parents don't pay her much attention, so she spends most of her time exploring the creepy old house. One day, she discovers a small door in the wall that has been bricked up. Despite warnings from her neighbors that she is in danger, Coraline decides to explore the door further when she is alone. She soon discovers that the bricks are gone, and instead, a passageway is on the other side of the door leading to an apartment that is identical to her own. Living in the other apartment are her Other Mother and Other Father, also identical copies of her own parents but with buttons for eyes. Coraline learns that this Other World is far more interesting than her own, and spends more and more time there, becoming closer with her Other Mother and Other Father. One day, her Other Mother offers to let Coraline live in the Other World forever. Coraline considers the idea, until she learns that in order to stay she will have to have buttons sewn on her eyes. Coraline quickly escapes the Other World, only to discover that her real parents are missing. Has her Other Mother trapped them in the Other World?
This novel, adapted into the hit 3D film of the same title, is a truly creepy but engrossing story that will spook even the bravest of young readers. Almost from the beginning of the story, it's clear that something unearthly is in store for Coraline. The house she's moved to is creepy, and when she discovers the Other World, things get even more suspicious. Although the Other World is, at first, delightful, something isn't quite right. Why do her Other Mother and Other Father have buttons for eyes? Why does the Other Mother seem so urgent to have Coraline agree to live in the Other World forever? After Coraline's parents are kidnapped and she must rescue them, things get even creepier. Several scenes when the Other World is beginning to unravel into the horrifying place it is are truly eerie, even for adult readers. `Tweens will delight in the scariness of Coraline's predicament, however, particularly since it does turn out well in the end. Gaiman does a truly remarkable job of creating an unusual and entertaining story for all ages to enjoy. Coraline is likely to be a classic for years to come.
As a big fan of the movie, I was really interested in reading the book version of Coraline. I was not disappointed! Like the film, the story is just eerie enough to be enjoyable. I really enjoyed the drawings by Dave Mckean that accompanied the text. They added an element of creepiness to the story, even though I had visions of the film while reading it. I would highly recommend this novel to `tweens searching for something fun to read under the covers at night. An instant classic
Sixteen-year-old Leo Borlock is a junior at Mica High School. He leads a normal life, along with the rest of his classmates who try not to stand out. Everything changes when new-girl, Stargirl Caraway, arrives at Mica High. Stargirl does everything but fit in. She wears unusual clothes (her mother is a costume designer), she carries her pet rat, Cinnamon, with her everywhere, and generally dances to the beat of her own drum. At first the rest of the school isn't sure what to make of the newcomer, but soon the student body is enchanted by her charm, none more-so than Leo. Just as quickly as her popularity rises, however, it begins to fade when Mica High begins to question the things she does. They don't understand why she insists upon cheering when rival basketball teams score, why she shows up to the funerals of strangers, or any of her formerly charming actions. Leo's still madly in love with Stargirl, even if the rest of the school starts to shun them both. But how long will his infatuation last as Mica High School becomes more and more distant?
Stargirl is an interesting and unique story about an interesting and unique, free-spirited girl. Spinelli does an excellent job of setting the stage for Stargirl's "grand entrance" to Mica High School; it's akin to when Dorothy steps into the Land of Oz for the first time and everything goes from black-and-white to color. The relationship between Leo and Stargirl is an interesting mix of adoration and confusion. Leo doesn't know what to make of Stargirl's strange behavior: her ukulele playing, her unusual clothes, her celebration of all the little things her classmates do. Young readers will be able to appreciate how different Stargirl is from their own peers, just as Leo does. Her rise and fall from popularity will also be interesting for `tweens who might witness similar situation in their own schools. Overall, Stargirl's unique and fun-loving qualities make for an entertaining and heartwarming story that will likely stick with readers for some time.
I wasn't sure what to make of this novel initially, but came to find the character of Stargirl to be quite endearing. She is unlike any other character I've met in a novel, and I realized that that was likely Spinelli's intention. I really liked the relationship between Leo and Stargirl, and how he really admired her despite the pressure he felt from his classmates to shun her. I would definitely recommend this novel to `tween, teen and adult readers.
Gilda Joyce lives a life of glamour and intrigue in Detroit, Michigan. At least she imagines she does. As a self-described "psychic investigator," Gilda strives to use her natural abilities to solve mysteries of the paranormal, among her many other projects. When her eight-grade year ends, Gilda is worried her summer won't be as exciting as she'd hoped after her best friend goes away to camp. Determined to have an adventure, Gilda contacts a distant relative, Mr. Splinter, in San Francisco and invites herself to stay for the summer. After a mis-communication with Mr. Splinter's ditzy assistant, Gilda is actually asked to come keep Mr. Splinter's daughter, Juliet, company over the summer. Gilda arrives in San Francisco and soon discovers that the Splinters are living in a house haunted by the ghost of Mr. Splinter's sister, Melanie, who committed suicide years before. Gilda and Juliet become friends, and are determined to solve the mystery of Melanie's death. What will Gilda's psychic investigations uncover?
This fun and clever novel not only delivers an entertaining and sometimes spooky storyline, but also a message that won't be lost on young readers. Gilda Joyce makes for an interesting and somewhat complex heroine. She is confident, blunt and clever, but there is a layer of sadness over the death of her father two years earlier. Throughout Gilda's bumbling psychic investigating, it's clear that she is using the mysteries as a means of working through his death. Juliet, Mr. Splinter's anti-social, sickly daughter, is also an interesting character for young readers. At the outset of the novel, Juliet is contemplating suicide, and she is obviously wrestling with some inner turmoil of her own. The relationship between Gilda, Juliet and Mr. Splinter is very interesting, and is reminiscent of Mary, Colin and Mr. Craven in Burnett's The Secret Garden. Gilda's adventures are merely a vehicle for what is actually a very relevant and touching story about families, communication and friendship.
I was surprised by how engrossing I found this novel. I was immediately aware of the underlying elements of the story, Gilda's sadness over her father's death, her strained family situation with her overworked mother and distant brother, and the coldness between Mr. Splinter and Juliet. The family relationships were quite heartbreaking at times. Allison does a wonderful job, however, of lightening the mood with Gilda's antics. Gilda is a very likable heroine and the mystery she and Juliet solve is actually quite interesting. I found myself feeling "creeped out" at times from the antics of the ghost of Aunt Melanie. Overall, this is a very enjoyable novel both for adults and tweens.
The year is 2060, and seventeen-year-old Madeline "Maddie" Freeman lives a very sheltered digital life. In Madeline's society, everything is done online from home. Children are educated through Digital School, a program created by Maddie's father, and very little face-to-face interaction occurs anymore. Maddie has come to terms with her digital life, but this hasn't always been the case. When she was fifteen, Maddie hacked into her father's computer, releasing important information to those opposed to Digital School. This serious crime could have landed Maddie in a detention center for life, but her father's influence saved her, and now she lives in a state of house arrest: her actions are monitored, websites she can visit controlled, and she is not allowed to socialize with anyone in person. Everything changes, however, when Maddie meets an online friend in person for the first time. His name is Justin, and Maddie quickly learns that he is one of the rebels opposed to Digital School that she helped in the past. Justin tries to convince Maddie that her digital life isn't reality and that he and the rest of the rebels need her help. But can Maddie really turn on her family, even if she is opposed to her father's creation?
This debut novel from author Katie Kacvinsky is a thrilling combination of technology, adventure and romance in an interesting futuristic setting. The society in Maddie's 2060 is very conceivable given the current trends of our reliance on computers. Far more social interaction is done online in 2011 than ever before, and the complete shutting out of face-to-face relationships in favor of the safety of the computer screen doesn't seem so improbable. Perhaps one of the best parts of Awaken is that it will likely shed light on these issues for teen readers who might be overly caught up in their Facebook, text messaging or online games. Apart from this hard look in the mirror, Kacvinsky has crafted an intriguing plot and set of characters that will surely make for a good series. Maddie is a very likable protagonist and her strained romance with Justin will likely remain at the forefront of the story in the next installments. The futuristic technology Kacvinsky creates, cars that can go underwater as submarines, lipstick-sized stun guns, add to the fun. A good start to a promising series.
I really enjoyed this book and read through it very quickly! It definitely makes a statement about how wired we are in today's society and the slippery slope that lies ahead. As an former-Oregonian, I did find Kacvinsky's use of Corvallis as a bustling metropolis of the future kind of funny. Other than that, the story was very interesting and well written. According to her website, she plans to write a sequel, Middle Ground, coming soon. I look forward to it!
Eighteen-year-old Kelsey just graduated high school and lives a humdrum life with her adoptive parents in her home state of Oregon. Kelsey's own parents were killed years before in a car accident, and she isn't sure what life holds for her now that she's an adult. After getting a temporary job at a travelling circus, Kelsey becomes enamored with a mysterious white tiger named Dhiren, or Ren. Kelsey is fond of the tiger with his soulful blue eyes, so she spends her free time reading to him and talking to him about her life. One afternoon, a friendly Indian man named Mr. Kadam visits the circus and informs Kelsey and Ren's circus handlers that a man in India has offered to purchase the tiger for a hefty fee. The circus accepts, and Mr. Kadam asks Kelsey, who obviously has formed a bond with Ren, to accompany him and the tiger to India in order to make his transition into his new life easier. After arriving in India, Kelsey quickly learns that Ren is not actually a tiger, he is an Indian prince (an incredibly handsome one at that) who was cursed centuries before to spend his life as a tiger. Ren can only spend 24 minutes each day in his human form, and begs Kelsey to help him figure out a way to end the curse. Mr. Kadam, who is actually Ren's faithful servant, Kelsey and Ren embark on an adventure in India that is beyond Kelsey's wildest expectations.
In this debut novel of Houck's Tiger's Curse series sets the stage for a new fantasy story that is sure to excite readers who enjoy ancient curses, adventure and romance. It is obvious that Houck has done her research into the history and landscape of India. The story is chock full of references to ancient Indian figures as well as Indian dress, locations and landscapes. Houck's writing-style is highly descriptive, which is, at times, ventures into the realm of overkill (is it really necessary to know that Kelsey shampooed her hair twice in the shower?), but does set the stage well for the plot. She has also created a cast of characters that are complex enough to maintain the reader's interest throughout this budding series. The romance between Kelsey and Ren is, obviously, the main selling point of the novel. Houck does an excellent job of describing just how handsome and dashing Ren in, as well as how madly in love he falls with the somewhat awkward Kelsey. Kelsey's efforts to convince herself that Ren is only going to break her heart do, at times, seem contrived, but Houck has created enough sexual tension between the two to keep the reader interested. The addition of Ren's brother, Kishan, a fellow tiger cursee, can only add to the mix. Overall, a good start to a promising series.
Although I wasn't always a huge fan of Colleen Houck's writing style, I did enjoy this book when it was all said and done. As a protagonist, Kelsey can be irritating at times, falling into such Bella-esque character flaws as whining, insecurity, and general angst. For me, the real enjoyment I found in the book lay in Ren and the tiger curse, as well as the setting in India. I look forward to reading the just released sequel, Tiger's Quest.
In Beatrice's post-apocalyptic Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each devoted to a different personality trait: Amity to peace, Abnegation to selflessness, Dauntless to bravery, Erudite to intelligence, and Candor to honesty. The factions intermingle, but members live starkly different lives depending on the one they belong to. Beatrice was born in Abnegation, but has always felt that she is not selfless enough to remain in the faction. When she and her brother, Caleb, turn 16-years-old, they get to participate in the choosing ceremony where they will decide which faction they will belong to for the rest of their lives. Before the ceremony, all 16-year-olds partake in an aptitude test that determines which faction they would be best suited for. When Beatrice takes the test, her tester, a woman from Dauntless, informs her that her results show her to be "divergent:" showing aptitude for more than one faction. This trait is very dangerous, and the tester warns Beatrice to keep quiet about it. When it comes time to choose, how will Beatrice decide between being herself and the family she loves?
This first installment in Roth's Divergent trilogy is certain to delight any reader who enjoys post-apocalyptic or dystopian novels, as well as anyone who simply likes a good story full of adventure, excitement and romance! Roth does an excellent job of creating likable, interesting characters with enough depth to last through the trilogy. Beatrice is a formidable leading lady and gives Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games trilogy a definite run for her money as toughest damsel in distress. Indeed, fans of the Hunger Games will definitely find a new novel to love in Divergent, as Roth's story comes just short of surpassing Collins' successful first installment. What is slightly more satisfying in Roth's novel is the romance between Beatrice and her initiation trainer in her new faction, a young man known simply as "Four." Beatrice and Four clearly have a bond from the start, but the formation of their inevitable romance is one of the most satisfying parts of the story. Thrown into the mix is a good amount of adventure, violence, and conflict that makes for an incredibly entertaining novel. Overall, I highly recommend Divergent to teen or adult readers who are interested in beginning and very thrilling and promising new trilogy.
Roth's first novel in the Divergent trilogy has left me with a ravenous hunger for the next installment! An intriguing, entertaining and fun read full of adventure and romance. I enjoyed this far more than Westerfeld's dystopian Uglies series, and loved it almost as much as Hunger Games (though not quite!) I have a strong feeling that this series is poised to be the next "big thing" in teen literature and highly recommend getting on board as early as possible!
Joey Crouch has lived a sheltered life in Chicago with his eccentric but loving mother. After she is tragically killed in a bus accident, Joey is sent to live with the father he has never met in the small town of Bloughton, Iowa. Not sure what to expect, Joey's worst fears are realized when his new smalltown life fraught with unhappiness: his father, Ken Harnett, is an unkempt and unfriendly man who immediately lets Joey know that his presence is not desired. Joey is treated horribly at his new high school, constantly mocked, bullied, and abused by students and teachers. Joey does find some solace in the company of his friendly band teacher who encourages him to continue playing trumpet, a skill fostered by his mother. But as Joey's life becomes more and more depressing, even music seems pointless in the endless monotony of torment. One night, Joey decides to learn the truth about his father's odd behavior and hides in his truck as he leaves for another one of his late night trips. Joey soon discovers Harnett's secret: he is a professional grave robber, or Digger, who makes a living pawning the treasures he steals from the dead. At first, Joey is horrified. Soon, however, he is drawn into the mysterious world of the Diggers as Harnett teaches him the finer points of uncovering a corpse.
This tense and often disturbing novel packs a powerful punch on many different fronts. The opening of the novel outlines the strange relationship between Joey and his mother then quickly jumps into the events following her death. After Joey arrives in Middle America, the juxtaposition of his experiences at his new high school and the "adventures" he has with his father makes for an interesting but also horrifying plot. Once Joey learns that he is good at his father's craft, he uses digging as a means of escaping the torment, abuse, and bullying enacted upon him at his high school. The satisfaction the reader feels at Joey's overcoming these obstacles is curious in light of the fact that it is obtained through his enjoyment of grave robbing with his long-lost pops. Graphic descriptions of what can be found six-feet-under, including such phrases as "coffin liquor" and "the boneyard blues," make parts of the novel difficult to get through in a stomach churning way. These horrors, however, are what make Rotters such a unique, utterly original, and highly memorable novel. Kraus does a fantastic job of turning something as disgusting as grave robbing into a means for a father and son to connect. The novel, while written for young adults, definitely has a place in adult literature as well, and can be enjoyed by any reader who wants something truly different from anything they've ever read.
Wow. This is certainly different from any book I have ever read, and was, at times, very difficult to get through. I'm not sure what to make of it. It is very well written and the characters are engaging, but in a horrifying way. Kraus dives head first into the utterly macabre, and only brave readers should dare to follow him into the world six-feet-under. While the novel will make your stomach turn, you will find yourself unable to wait arriving at the fascinating conclusion. I will definitely remember Rotters for a long time.
This sequel to Jane Austen's classic novel Sense and Sensibility (1811) picks up three years after the events of the original story. Marianne Dashwood, now Mrs. Brandon, is happily married to the devoted Colonel Brandon, and has a child of her own. Her sister, Elinor Dashwood, now Mrs. Ferrars, lives nearby with her husband Edward and their children. This novel focuses more, however, on the younger Dashwood sister, Margaret, who is now sixteen and quite beautiful. When Colonel Brandon's handsome nephew, Henry, comes to Delaford to visit his uncle, Marianne is determined to play matchmaker between her nephew and sister. Marianne's plans seem to be going well, Margaret and Henry become increasingly attached to one another. But nothing prepares Marianne for the shock she experiences next: John Willoughby, her first love who spurned her for a rich heiress, has returned to Dorsetshire with his wife. It appears that Willoughby and Mrs. Brandon will be forced to spend time in eachother's company at social events in the neighborhood, and Marianne is conflicted by a resurgence of feelings for the dashing man. She becomes even more unsure as her husband spends more and more time with his ward, Eliza, and her daughter, who happens to be Willoughby's daughter as well, in Lyme. Convinced that Colonel Brandon may have fallen in love with Eliza, Marianne begins to wonder if Willoughby's affections might be worth returning.
Although the story doesn't have the same literary magic of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, this sequel provides an entertaining and interesting read for those who loved the original story. Marianne Brandon, neé Dashwood, is now nineteen-years-old and has been happily married to her husband, Colonel Brandon, for three years. The couple have a child, and everything seems to be going well for Marianne, although she does appear to be slightly bored in her new life. She sees an opportunity for excitement when Brandon's nephew, Henry, comes to visit and seeks to play matchmaker between him and her sister Margaret, now sixteen-years-old. The storyline of Henry and Margaret is not as interesting as the return of John Willoughby, however. Fans of the original, both teen and adult, will clamber to see what happens when Marianne encounters her first love. In Willoughby, Austen truly created a dashing lothario, and left the novel open enough to leave the reader wondering what would happen if Marianne and Willoughby were ever reunited. Odiwe does a good job of entertaining these notions, with a lot of sexual tension, temptation and lust. The rest of the storyline, such as Colonel Brandon's supposed love for his ward, Eliza, and the inclusion of the irritating Lucy Ferrars and her sister, Anne Steele, are not quite as satisfactory. Still, the novel will appeal to both teen and adult fans of the original and continues in the spirit of the iconic Jane Austen.
I am a huge Jane Austen fan, and especially love the character of Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility (largely due to his portrayal by Greg Wise in the 1995 film version.) When I saw a novel that delved into what might have happened had Willoughby reentered the lives of the Dashwoods, I had to read it. Overall I enjoyed the novel, although the plot line with Marianne and Willoughby was the only one I found really interesting (there are also subplots about Margaret Dashwood and Colonel Brandon having a "love affair" with his ward, Willoughby's ex, Eliza.) Despite the mediocrity of these subplots, I still recommend this title for Jane Austen fans everywhere.
Azalea is the Princess Royale of her father's kingdom in Eathesbury, but being in line for the throne is far from easy. She has eleven rambunctious little sisters and, after their mother's tragic death, she becomes responsible for raising them. Her relationship with her father, the King, is distant as he struggles to cope with his wife's death. The palace is fraught with rules and regulations, specifically a ban on dancing following in the wake of the queen's death, which makes Azalea and her sisters very unhappy. One night, Azalea discovers a magical passageway in the girls' room that leads to a beautiful silver pavilion. The girls discover that the pavilion is run by Keeper, a mysterious but incredibly handsome and charming man who informs them that he was imprisoned in the walls for betraying the evil High King who terrorized the country centuries before. In the pavilion, the girls discover a sanctuary from the rules of the palace, and make a nightly habit of dancing to their hearts' content. Soon, however, Keeper's behavior becomes more sinister, and Azalea begins to fear that he is not as kind as he seems. Can Azalea protect her sisters, and her kingdom, from the danger that lurks in the walls of the palace?
Wonderfully written and thoroughly entertaining, Entwined is an excellent novel for anyone who is a fan of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale. Dixon does a superb job of adding onto the tale, giving it twists and turns that are very enjoyable. The relationship between Azalea, her sisters, and their distant father is at the forefront of the novel. Each girl has her own unique personality, and are all likable as well. Their love for dancing and its subsequent ban after the death of their mother is reminiscent of The Secret Garden. The magical pavilion housed inside a forest of silver is beautifully described, and the character of Keeper is intriguing as well. Overall, an excellent novel and quick read despite it's 450+ page length.
I have always been a fan of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale, and adored this new take on the story. Azalea is an excellent lead character, and I loved the mysterious workings of the palace. Dixon does a wonderful job of building suspense and a sense of dread as Azalea discovers the truth behind the magical pavilion. I highly recommend this book!
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn tells the story Francie Nolan and her family growing up in Brooklyn in the early 20th century. The book is divided into five parts. In part one, the reader meets eleven-year-old Francie and her little brother Neeley. Francie and Neeley live with their parents, Johnny and Katie in the tenements of Williamsburg. Johnny Nolan is an alcoholic and Katie works as a house cleaner. Living in utter poverty, Francie and Neeley earn pennies selling scrap metal with other children of the tenements. Part two tells the story of Johnny and Katie's meeting and falling in love as first generation immigrants. Part three describes the Nolan children as they begin school, as well as the death of Francie's father from pneumonia. The rest of the book chronicles Francie's coming-of-age as she and Neely grow up and get jobs to support their family. As Francie's life appears to have more on the horizon than that of her mother, she can't help but remember the small apartment in Brooklyn where she grew up.
Though written almost seventy years ago about a time long since past, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn remains one of the most celebrated and classic coming-of-age tales .The character of Francie Nolan is one many teen girls can identify with: she struggles to find out who she is while coping with her father's alcoholism, her family's poverty, and her unfortunate surroundings. Addicted to reading and education, Francie's unending struggle to better her life has and will continue to inspire many. Betty Smith paints a rich portrait of the characters in the novel, and as they grow, the reader feels connected with their lives. The book is also an excellent look at life in the early 20th century. Smith's attention to detail is perfect for creating a realistic backdrop for her story. In a way, Brooklyn itself is another character in the novel. Francie's ability to overcome adversity, essentially becoming the "tree" that grew out of Brooklyn, is what keeps generation after generation interested in reading this wonderful, heartwarming novel.
I have read this novel twice, once when I was about 14, the second time as an adult. Both times I thought it was wonderful. It is truly a classic piece of American literature, but I have met quite a few people who've never read/heard of it. It's definitely a must-read for people who enjoy historical fiction or period novels, but can be enjoyed by all audiences.
Magnus Stannard, a tenacious businessman, has made his career on unusual moves that have proved successful, resulting in a large fortune and a great deal of power. His only son, Martin, has failed to live up to this shining example of entrepreneurialism, and has always believed his father's feelings towards him to be those of disappointment. When Magnus acquires a vintage yacht called the Dark Echo he informs Martin, and his business partners, that he is retiring to a life at sea. He invites Martin to take a transatlantic voyage with him from England to New York to begin his new nautical existence. Martin, with the help of his researcher girlfriend Suzanne, begin looking into the history of the yacht. It seems that it was commissioned by a millionaire playboy and World War I veteran, Harry Spalding, in the 1920s. Spalding lived a dashing existence, but was also rumored to dabble in Satanism. The yacht is thought by those familiar with it to be cursed, but Magnus ignores these rumors. As the crew working to restore the boat falls victim to strange accidents, Martin and Suzanne become convinced that the history of the boat will reveal the truth about the dangers they now face.
This intriguing ghost story is a mixture of historical fact and fiction that makes for an intense, supernatural mystery. The reader comes to know the characters in the novel quite well, and this understanding makes the plot all the more interesting. Martin's failed attempt at a life in the Church, Suzanne's professional interest with Michael Collins, and Magnus' lifelong obsession with the yacht are just some of the subplots that add to the richness of the story. The historical figures placed in the book as well as the various locations in the UK set the tone for some of the creepy happenings. Overall, Cottam weaves an intricate tale that definitely pays off in the end.
I can proudly proclaim myself an F.G. Cottam fan after reading his second "ghost story" (the first was The House of Lost Souls, which I highly recommend.) Although I did prefer his first novel to this, Dark Echo is a very interesting story with a lot of history and some truly creepy moments. Definitely for readers who are into plots that are intense but with depth. I would only recommend this title for older teens as there is some violence and gory situations, but nothing too out of hand.
Sixteen-year-old Kaylee Cavanaugh has a strange ability: she knows when someone is going to die. She senses it, sees the person covered in shadow, and is unable to do anything but scream. Kaylee is not sure if this ability is a gift or a curse. She lives with her uncle Brendon, aunt Val and cousin Sophie; her father lives in Ireland and sent her to America after her mother's death. Her aunt and uncle seem to think her ability is psychological, like a panic attack. When gorgeous and popular Nash takes a sudden interest in Kaylee, and seems to know a lot about these visions she has, however, Kaylee begins to wonder if maybe she's not crazy. It turns out, Kaylee is a bean sidhe (or "banshee"): a mythical death herald. Screaming and wailing for the nearly deceased is part of who, or what she is. Nash knows this because he is a bean sidhe too, only he has the ability to guide souls that have recently departed their bodies. Together, Kaylee and Nash have to figure out why beautiful and healthy girls keep dropping dead at their high school. Can two bean sidhes in love save their classmates before it's too late?
Creative, original and entertaining, My Soul To Take, the first book in the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent, is a delight for any fan of monsters, vampires, ghosts, faeries, and other paranormal creatures. The novel begins with Kaylee experiencing a vision of death right away. Instead of opening with back-story and an introduction of the characters, Vincent gets the action started immediately, capturing the reader's interest from the start. The rest of the novel is devoted to expanding on the characters of Kaylee and Nash, and the history of the bean sidhe, all while moving forward with the plot. The result is a page-turner that is difficult to put down until the conclusion. In an almost Harry Potter fashion, it is revealed that Kaylee comes from a long long of bean sidhe, her father, mother, even her uncle Brendon are all bean sidhes. The reader discovers along with Kaylee the extent of her powers, the truth behind her life, and how she can use her abilities. Instead of observing Kaylee from the outside, Vincent places the reader right in the plot with her, creating an exciting experience that teens, and adults, will love. The novel also sets the stage for the other books in the series, keeping the reader interested in learning more about Kaylee and Nash, and seeing what kind of situations they will undoubtedly encounter in the future. Vincent's writing style is also very relevant for teens. Kaylee acts and speaks like a typical sixteen-year-old girl, despite the fact that she is a bean sidhe, and teen readers will identify with her feelings and attitudes. Overall, My Soul To Take is a must-read for teens who enjoy the genre.
I absolutely loved this novel. There are so many stories, especially for teens, that include monsters, whether it's vampires, zombies, werewolves, fairies, etc. I was so excited to see one that included one of the most interesting characters from Celtic lore: the bean sidhe. Kaylee is a very likable heroine as well, and takes on her newly discovered abilities with a sense of humor, not a pout or temper tantrum. I also highly recommend the rest of this fun series!
Paul, Arnie, Crank and Oz are best friends living in Sierra Madre, a suburb of Los Angeles, in 1955. The boys love spending their summer days at the local theater watching the latest horror movies. When they learn that a new movie called Invasion of the Body Snatchers is set to be filmed in their town, they're ecstatic. The boys get to see the movie being filmed and even become friends with the director, Don Siegel, and a beautiful extra named Laura Burke. But when they learn that an FBI agent is working on the movie set to determine if anyone involved in the film is a communist, their summer of fun turns into their own hunt for Russian sympathizers.
The Year of the Bomb opens the door for tweens to learn about a time many may not be familiar with, the communist witch-hunts of the McCarthy era. Friends Paul, Arnie, Crank and Oz are a likeable gang of teenage boys who fill their days in much the same as their 2011 counterparts would: exploring the world through the eyes of the movie camera. Many classic horror films are mentioned in the book and will undoubtedly prompt curiosity on the part of young readers who want to learn more about Invaders from Mars or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. What makes the story so interesting is that it makes reference to real people, places and events. In a way, the novel is a history lesson disguised as a story about a group of friends in the 1950s. While The Year of the Bomb is not for everyone (tween girls might not be as interested in this title), it is an entertaining and well-written story that holds a lot of appeal for readers who are interested in this particular historical period.
I began reading this book not knowing quite what to expect, but was very pleased with what I found. The McCarthy-era is one of the most interesting and strange periods in American history and I love that Kidd created a book for tweens that looks into it. I had some familiarity with the movies mentioned in the story, but it definitely peaked my interest in watching more classic horror films, which I'm sure would be the effect upon tween readers as well.
Sixteen-year-old Amy and her parents, a genetic specialist and a military tactician, volunteer to be cryogenically frozen for three hundred years and shot into space towards a new planet, Centauri-Earth, upon which they will start a new society. After being frozen, Amy's body is encased in a coffin of ice, but her mind continues to work, locking her in a terrible nightmare for centuries. Unsure of how much time has passed, Amy suddenly begins to feel warmth and realizes that her glass coffin is melting. When she wakes up, she meets sixteen-year-old Elder, the future leader of the ship, and learns, to her horror, that she has been unfrozen fifty years before the ship lands. Amy is crushed that she cannot see her parents, but begins to explore the Godspeed, the ship on which she has been travelling for the past two hundred and fifty years. The inhabitants of the ship are as strange to Amy as she is to them: the Godspeed's residents, including Elder, are all monoethnic, and Amy's red hair and pale, freckled skin give her a freakish appearance. To make matters worse, most of the people on the ship appear to be in some sort of stupor: blindly following everything the current leader, Eldest, tells them. But as Amy and Elder get to know each other and Amy learns more about the Godspeed, she begins to wonder if the ship is as peaceful and harmonious as Eldest claims.
This sometimes creepy but thrilling story combines science fiction, mystery and romance in an utterly original novel that will appeal as much to adult readers as teens. One of the strongest elements of the story showing Revis' literary prowess is her ability to develop multi-layered characters that the reader cares about almost immediately. The story is told by both Amy and Elder in alternating chapters, giving each of them a distinct voice and equal presence in the story. The supporting characters of Eldest, Harley, Orion and the ship's Doctor are equally as interesting as the protagonists, as are the descriptions of the Godspeed which, in many ways, is another character in the novel. Revis does an excellent job of combining the dystopian elements of H.G. Wells' Time Machine, the sci-fi elements of TV's Battlestar Galactica and modern debates about genetic engineering and manipulation. The resulting story is sophisticated, intriguing and makes for a wonderful page-turner that keeps the reader guessing until the final moments. Revis has announced that Across the Universe is the first installment in a trilogy, and the fact that it is her debut novel makes her literary accomplishment all the more impressive. Overall, an outstanding novel equally enjoyable for adults and teens.
I really enjoyed this book from start to finish! It's a story that you know is going to good from the first chapter. Maybe it's because I am a sci-fi fan and also a fan of dystopian novels. Maybe it's because it's simply an excellentally written story. Either way, I am very excited for this new trilogy!
traveler. Gwyneth has always known, as has the rest of the family, that her beautiful and sophisticated cousin Charlotte is the carrier of the time travelling gene, having fulfilled a centuries old prophecy of being born on October 7, 1994. Gwyneth, who's birthday is October 8, never suspected the truth: that her mother lied about her birth date to protect her from lifelong preparations for travelling through time. It seems that Gwyneth was actually born on the 7th and is the actual gene carrier. Now, she is thrust into the middle of the web of secrets that has ensnared her family for generations. To make matters worse, she must also contend with her time-travelling counterpart, Gideon, a member of another wealthy family who give birth to a male time traveler with each new generation. Gideon is handsome, but too stuck up for Gwyneth who he, and everyone else, is convinced is just a silly girl, incapable of being as fit for navigating the past as the well-trained Charlotte would have been. Will Gwyneth be able to handle her new found gifts and the secrets that come with them?
With a promising premise, Ruby Red makes for a slow start to what will surely blossom into an entertaining trilogy. Gier appears to be using the first novel in this new trilogy to set the stage for adventure. There is a lot of character development, particularly of the heroine, Gwyneth, and a great deal of background about Gwyneth's family legacy. Gwyneth's actual emergence as the real female time traveler and dethroning of her stuck-up cousin, Charlotte, are the primary plot points in the novel, as well as her budding romance with fellow time-traveler, Gideon. Some more sinister characters are introduced, but are not really expanded upon, something that will hopefully occur in the next installments. Overall, Ruby Red is a light-hearted and slow-paced beginning to a trilogy with a lot of potential. Hopefully Gier will deliver an even better second installment with Sapphire Blue set for release in Spring 2012.
I think the premise of this book saved it from what I found to be a very slow pace. For some reason it just seemed to take a long time for the action to really get going, but once it did I began to see a lot of potential. I think Gier does a great job of setting the stage for the real adventure to come in the rest of the series. I look forward to seeing how it pans out.
Jacobs lives an ordinary life with an ordinary family in an ordinary town. The only excitement he has are the stories his beloved Grandfather Portman tells him about his youth growing up in an orphanage after escaping the Nazis in his native Poland. Unlike other orphanages, this one was magical: the sun always shone, the other children had fantastic powers, and they were all lovingly looked after by a wise bird. Most importantly, his grandfather, and the other children, were safe on the island from the monsters who hunted them. Jacob believes his grandfather's stories with all his heart, but as he grows up he begins to wonder the truthfulness behind his tales. All of the old photographs his grandfather showed him, of children levitating, hoisting enormous boulders, and making fire in their hands, start to look fake and Jacob, and the rest of his family, begin to doubt the aging man's sanity. After his grandfather is brutally murdered, however, Jacob is convinced there was some truth behind his stories of monsters lurking in the shadows hunting the children, especially since Jacob believes he saw the very monster that killed his grandfather. In order to uncover the mystery behind his grandfather's death, and restore his own sanity, Jacob and his father travel to a remote island off the coast of Wales, the location of the peculiar orphanage.
At times touching, horrifying, mysterious and always interesting, Ransom Riggs begins a very promising series with this page-turning novel. Almost as important as the text are the vintage photos scattered throughout the book. Riggs makes sure to point out that these are actual photographs collected over the years by various enthusiasts, and their appeal adds enormously to the story. Many of the characters introduced in the story are illustrated in the photos, helping to set the mood for what is actually a very interesting and original story. Jacob is a compelling protagonist, particularly because of the sweet relationship he has with his late grandfather. As he uncovers more about his grandfather's past, and his own future, the reader begins to genuinely care about Jacob and the other children under the care of the mysterious Miss Peregrine. The novel is always full of twists and turns that keep the reader on their toes, closing with a cliffhanger that leaves a great deal of anticipation for the second installment. Although the date of the sequel's release has not been announced yet, Fox Studios has already won the movie rights for what is certain to be a very successful franchise for Riggs. An exciting beginning to a wonderful series.
I really enjoyed this book and am so excited that it seems to be getting quite popular. I think Riggs does a fantastic job of writing a very compelling story that can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike. The vintage photos are great, and I really fell in love with the world Riggs created. I can't wait for the sequel, and the movie version!
Ex-CIA agent Wyman Ford is asked by the government to undertake a mission to the jungles of Cambodia to discover the truth about a mine that seems to be producing radioactive gem stones. Twenty-year-old college dropout Abby Straw and her friend Jackie look for a mysterious meteorite that struck an island off the coast of their small hometown in Maine. Scientist Mark Corso receives a classified hard drive stolen from the National Propulsion Facility from his former professor and mentor who was killed in an alleged home invasion. All of these events seem to be random and not connected but, in fact, all point to a dangerous threat from space that threatens the Earth, solar system, and universe. Can the mystery surrounding the mine, meteor and hard drive be solved in time to save the human race from extinction?
This sci-fi/thriller novel from author Douglas Preston packs a powerful punch with an interesting plot, compelling characters, and enough action to keep the pages turning at a rapid pace. Each of the different storylines is intriguing in its own right, and when the characters begin to converge and things become clearer, the reader is in for a treat. Preston does a great job of explaining the various scientific aspects of the plot, ensuring that nothing is lost on readers who might not be familiar with astronomy. There is also quite a bit of marine lingo that is illustrated effectively as well. Although the novel does contain some adult themes and language, Impact makes an excellent adult/teen crossover, providing enough action to engage teens and adults alike. Overall, an enjoyable novel that is difficult to put down. An excellent recommendation for older teens ready to move on from young adult sci-fi.
After returning from her whirlwind adventure in India, Kelsey decides to push aside her feelings of love and confusion for Ren and focus on college and dating other people. Mr. Kadam has arranged for Kelsey to attend Western Oregon University in the fall, paying for her tuition, books, a house to live in and a new car. Kelsey tries dating other people, even having a connection with her martial arts instructor, Li, but she can't seem to shake memories of the white tiger from her mind. When Ren suddenly joins her in Oregon, Kelsey realizes that their love for eachother is too strong to be ignored and the two began dating once more while both attending college in Oregon. Their happiness is interrupted when, following the arrival of Ren's brother, Kishan, the trio learns that the evil Lokesh, the very same man who curse the princes to live as tigers, is on a quest to find Kelsey at all costs, and is getting closer. It seems that Kelsey will have no choice but to leave Oregon once more and return to India in search of another key in the puzzle of saving the brothers from the tiger's curse.
This second installment in Houck's Tiger's Curse series delivers more adventure, romance and mythology in the same vein as the first novel. Kelsey's confusion over her feelings for Ren and her attempts at dating will resonate with readers who have experienced similar situations. Houck creates a very likable character in Li, the martial arts instructor who likes Kelsey despite her obvious preoccupation with someone else. When Ren arrives in Oregon, the dynamics between the two shift setting the stage for what will surely be an epic romance that will last through all seven books (Houck revealed in an interview that there are seven planned installments in this series.) The book takes a dramatic shift when Kelsey returns to India and must team up with Kishan to complete the next step in reversing the tiger's curse. Kishan and Kelsey also have strong romantic feelings for eachother, adding a Twilight¬¬¬-esque love triangle to the story. Their adventures get a little silly at times, but readers will, no doubt, enjoy the sexual tension between Kelsey and the black tiger. Overall, a good second novel in an interesting series.
Like the first book in the series, there were some things I liked about this book and some things I didn't like. As a native Oregonian, I thought the references to the state were fun but a bit overkill at times. I commend Houck for advertising her home state, but not many people know or care much for specific details about Oregon trivia (i.e. Burgerville, restaurants in Salem, Tillamook, etc. I also thought the adventures of Kelsey and Kishan began to veer into the goofy at times (i.e. magical scarves, trees giving birth to fairy-like creatures, lightning bolt powers, etc.) When it is all said and done, however, I will most likely be picking up the third installment in this series due for release in November 2011. Despite its flaws, there is something enjoyable about the characters and adventures in this series.
Sixteen-year-old Alex Lee has always lived on a communal farm in the mountainous woods of Mendocino, California with her mother. The farm values community and togetherness, and Alex and her mother help support the other residents by selling herbal tinctures her mother concocts. One terrible day, however, Alex's mother is killed in a car accident. Alex soon finds out that she is being sent to live with the grandmother she has never met in Savannah, Georgia. After arriving in Savannah, Alex realizes she couldn't fit it any less with her dreadlocks and grungy clothes. It appears that Alex's grandmother, Miss Lee, is the head of an elite social group known as the Magnolia League. The Magnolias rule Savannah, and two of the league members Alex's age, Hayes and Madison, are quickly forced to befriend the new girl despite their better judgment. Miss Lee tries hard to help Alex adjust to her new surroundings: buying her expensive clothes and teaching her the rules of being a debutante. As hard as her grandmother tries, however, it seems that Alex will never fit in. Soon, however, Alex becomes intrigued by the Magnolia League, not because of the fancy clothes or popularity, but when she learns that another Savannah family, the Buzzards, have helped to give the Magnolias their power through the use of hoodoo. Alex begins to wonder if the hoodoo spells could help her achieve beauty and popularity like the other Magnolias.
This first novel in Crouch's new series (according to Crouch's website, the sequel is being written), introduces an interesting back-story that, unfortunately, is hampered by a weak cast of characters and several unnecessary plot elements. The biggest problem with the story is the protagonist. Although Alex is a likable character, her upbringing and behavior are far from believable. Her constant references to the communal "pot farm" she grew up on in Mendocino and how her biggest talent lies in growing organic produce gets old quickly. Alex's "hippiness" could have been downplayed more to be less cheesy and still have been effective. The second problem is Alex's "friends," Hayes and Madison. It's clear that these two characters do not particularly want to be friends with Alex, but the trio spend a lot of time together anyway being mutually unpleasant. Alex's constant second-guessing and unpleasantness make their loyalty hard to believe, even with the Magnolia League as an excuse. There are also some sexual references in the story that are unnecessary and out of place as well. That being said, Crouch does create some interesting plot elements that still manage to intrigue the reader. The back-story of the relationship between the Magnolia League and the Buzzards, as well as all of the references to hoodoo, are very interesting. The novel closes with a very effective cliffhanger that sets the stage for the next novel. Overall, I would not give this novel a high recommendation, but hope the series improves as more installments are published.
This book was a mixed bag for me. There were parts of the story I really liked and parts that I thought were either really silly or unnecessary. I will probably pick up the sequel regardless, because Crouch has managed to create an interesting story despite the downsides.
In 1815 London, seventeen-year-old Agnes Wilkins is about to make her debut into society in hopes of making a good match. Agnes, however, would rather spend her time studying languages and reading books by her favorite author, A Lady (actually Jane Austen), than fret over her debut gown like her mother. To make matters worse, Agnes has attracted the attentions of a very rich suitor, Lord Showalter, who seems intent on marrying her. One night at a party held by Showalter, Agnes and the other guests are invited to partake in the unwrapping of a mummy in hopes of finding treasures and trinkets to take home. Agnes does find a trinket, a small item in the shape of a dog's head. Intrigued by the item, Agnes decides to keep it even when Lord Showalter suddenly announces that the mummy in question is not the correct specimen and all of the trinkets must be returned. After the party, however, inexplicable things start occurring and Agnes' social circle begins to believe that a mummy's curse has been wrought upon their group. Agnes isn't convinced, and begins to believe that the strange things that have been happening are actually part of a plot by Napoleon to infiltrate London. Agnes is determined to thwart the plot and, together with the handsome Caedmon who she meets at the British Museum, pushes the concerns about her debut aside to find out the truth of the "mummy's curse."
Chock full of Jane Austen references, this fun historical mystery is a must read for any fans of the Regency time period. Bradbury does an excellent job of integrating the adventure aspects of the story with the more Austen-like plotline of Agnes' impending engagement to Lord Showalter. Agnes is a very likable protagonist and Bradbury makes a point to highlight the fact that her leading lady is not only beautiful but brave and intelligent. Through Agnes, Bradbury also comments on the life of women during this time period as well, and how society was far from equitable. The inclusion of Napoleon and his antics are a good introduction for younger readers who might not be familiar with all of the intrigue surrounding the controversial Emperor. Serving both as a history lesson, homage to Jane Austen, and fun mystery, Wrapped is an excellent choice for both teen and adult readers.
This was a fun book, and I especially loved all the Jane Austen references! Jennifer Bradbury does a good job of combining the adventure elements with Regency society, and throws in some Napoleon too. Overall, a fun story that can be enjoyed by Jane Austen fans of all ages!