Sunday, December 20, 2009

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Cal is a carrier for the parasite that turns people into vampire-like creatures, called peeps. He contracted the parasite one night and now works for the Night Watch, an organization that hunts down and captures peeps. Cal's responsible for finding the people he infected, Sarah being his latest peep to find. Then he needs to find the person who infected him.

Cal finally figures out where he was infected, and meets Lace in the process. Lace lives on the same floor as Morgan, the woman who infected Cal. Cal discovers a lair in the basement, and some very interesting phenomenon...and drags Lace into the situation on accident. While trying to deal with that mistake, Cal realizes he was only told half of the story from the Night Watch. He then finds Morgan, who attempts to explain why she's going around and infecting as many people as possible. And Lace is in danger of being infected herself. But that's not the worst thing they'll be facing..

Cal tells this story with humor and fear combined. There are many instances where creepy is a definite factor, but suspense is built well and steadily. The references to parasites from around the world stops the story from getting too tense. A great twist on vampire lore.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Dani has been a thief her entire life, trained by the best--her mother. The arrive in Heaven--a tourist town with many rich houses--and Dani's mom can't wait to figure out the house they'll be stealing from.

But Dani isn't happy with her life. She doesn't like stealing. And when she meets Allison, who becomes her friend--Dani isn't sure what to do. Then Dani learns Allison lives in the house her mother has her sights on. And Dani has an admirer in the form of a young cop determined to start something with her. Add in her mother's sickness, and Dani feels pressure on each side to decide what kind of life she wants to live.

Well-written and heartfelt. You can't help but like Dani, and enjoy her interactions with Greg and Allison. I really enjoyed the story.

Bait by Alex Sanchez

Diego's in trouble. A guy at school looked at him funny, and Diego went a little off the edge and assaulted him. Now Diego is awaiting sentencing.

That's when he meets Vidas, his probation officer. And Diego, who feels abandoned by all the adults in his life, starting with his mom (who is still around), and finishing with his stepdad who committed suicide, finds he wants to keep talking to Vidas.

There are certain topics Diego would prefer not to talk about. What his stepdad was doing to him for one. What his stepdad was planning on doing to Diego's little brother Eddie for two. The scars up and down both of his arms for three. Diego struggles with guilt, anger, confusion, and hatred while trying to keep his head above water with the law, Vidas, and his own inner demons.

We often forget that boys suffer from a lot of the same pressures girls do, that they can be just or more abused by family members and by their own need to assert their masculinity as they get older. Diego struggles with trying to appear strong instead of weak and a lot of his anger comes from proving he isn't gay.

This was a fabulous book. It was heartbreaking to read Diego's story.

Vamped by Lucienne Diver

Gina woke up to...complete darkness. She died in a car crash--and woke up three days later in her coffin underground. Not the best way to start her undead life. But after climbing out of the grave and having Bobby (the geek vamp who turned her) bring her some new clothes. Gina's ready to make her debut at graduation.

Until she and Bobby are taken and added to Mellisande's army. Mellisande is creating a vampire army to overthrow the vampire council and have all control. Gina doesn't agree and has to find a way to rescue her classmates from Mellisande's control. All while looking fabulous, of course.

The story has a great premise, which really becomes apparent about a third of the way through the book. Gina shines at some points, but otherwise you have to work to like her. That could be intentional on the author's part. However, once the story gets really going, the action is interesting. The humor in the book also adds to the interest.

You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn

Miles is a seventeen-year old ready to be done with school, be on her own, and to find a purpose for the rest of her life. Then her cousin Laura commits suicide. The two girls were almost sisters growing up and the few weeks before Laura's suicide, they spent more time together, getting high and talking.

After Laura's death, Miles' downward spiral becomes more pronounced. Her mom heads to London, and her best friend Jamal starts hanging out with Laura's friend Bex. Laura's dad Jim starts paying more attention to her, along with her own dad Buddy. But Miles has to hit rock bottom before she realizes how close she is to repeating Laura's last act.

This story was extremely intense. There were times it was hard to keep reading, watching Miles slowly going downhill. It was well-written and an important window into the life and world of a drug addict.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Raven by Allison Van Diepen

Nicole's best friend is Zin, someone she's known for a while as a great listener and a fabulous dancer. They both belong to the break dancing group Zin started, and when Nicole gets a job at the bar where Zin works--Evermore--life doesn't seem to get any better for Nicole.

Nicole has a secret from Zin--she's in love with him. He seems to return the same feelings, but she can never get close to him to figure out for sure. When Nicole is attacked on the street and almost killed, Zin rescues her and reveals his true self.

Not only that, but everyone who works at Evermore seems to share Zin's particular traits. And Carlos, the man that created them all, has taken a special interest in Nicole, the one he calls Raven, much to Zin's dismay.

Danger lurks on all sides, but is there a way to undo what has been done?

A good love story. The plot skips around a bit, and some of the details are a little fuzzy. The story itself is believable and the characters are interesting. You learn much about each character, not just Nicole and Zin.

STORM: The Infinity Code by E. L. Young

Will's father died and his mom left him with Natalia so she could grieve. Will's started at a school for gifted children, but his true passion lies with inventions. While testing out a new invention, Gaia, one of the girls from school, sees. She reports back to Andrew, a friend and creator of STORM, a secret organization created to save the world, as only 11-year olds can.

The Caspian, one of their members, disappears. In an effort to find him, they stumble upon his formulas to create something called The Infinity Code--a black hole.

Worried why Caspian is messing around with this code, Will, Gaia, and Andrew follow him from England to Russia and find themselves in a much bigger plot and in more trouble than they bargained for.

This is the first book in the STORM series. There is action, science, and camaraderie throughout the book, although this book focuses more on Will than anyone else. The 11-year olds are smarter and sometimes more mature than their years, although sometimes their age shines through.

Forensic mysteries by Alane Ferguson

This is a great series of books, and I'm going to mention the four that are currently out. I don't want to give away what happens in them by talking too much about the later ones. You can read them in any order that you want, although I think it makes the most sense to start with the first one. There is a lot of science and action in each book, a little romance, and a great story to be told.

The Christopher Killer
Cameryn has always wanted to go into forensic science. Her father, the coroner for their small Colorado town, accepts her as his assistant, so she can learn more about her favorite subject.

But Cameryn doesn't expect to get an intense case from the get-go. There is a serial killer on the loose, and a friend of Cameryn's is murdered.

Frustrated at not getting any leads, Cameryn takes matters into her own hands to solve the murder, possibly at the risk of becoming the next victim.

The Angel of Death
Death strikes again in Cameryn's town, only this death is much more puzzling. The victim, Brad Oakes, was burned alive with no outer burns on his skin. Oakes was a well-liked English teacher at the high school with no problems with anyone.

While trying to solve this mystery, Cameryn has a mystery and a few secrets of her own. Her mom is trying to contact her, and she has to deal with her own feelings as well as her dad's and her grandmother's. On top of which, Kyle, the boy who found Oakes' body, has taken an interest in her, not to everyone's delight. Can she balance everything in her life and figure out who the murderer is?

The Circle of Blood
Cameryn has certainly led an exciting and dangerous life since becoming her father's assistant. One she hopes will start to calm down.

Things aren't that simple. Another girl shows up dead, Justin declares his feelings for her, Hannah, her mom, gives a startling confession, and Cameryn hides details about the murdered girl, since they lead straight back to Hannah. How long can she keep up the charade?

The Dying Breath
Cameryn is truly happy for once in a very long time. She and her mom have reconnected, her dad and grandma are much calmer about everything, and she and Justin have gotten to spend some time together without having to work.

But Cameryn's life is not going to change for the better any time soon. One of the murderers from a previous book is back and ready to make Cameryn his final victim.

Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor

Toby has a secret dream--he wants to be a chef. So when he gets a job at a new pizzeria, he's thrilled! He starts with Annabel, Strobe, and David, and can't imagine a better job. He's already thinking of opening his own place and what recipes he'd like to create when David reveals his true identity and the real purpose behind Killer Pizza.

Killer Pizza is a front for Harvey's true business--monster killing. There are monsters everywhere, monsters called gutlata. Harvey's team of MCOs (Monster Combat Officer) find, fight, and kill gutlata before they convert or kill humans. Harvey is hoping to take down the Alpha and take out the whole pack of gutlata, with or without their help. Even though Toby just wants to create pizzas, he finds himself unable to turn down the chance to be a hero.

An exciting story with many twists, turns, and action. The fighting between humans and gutlata are well done, varied, and throughout the novel. There are many creepy moments--not really scary ones--and Toby and his friends are completely believable characters.

Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted

Cody has lived in almost every country in the world and knows five languages. He helps his dad profile suspects for the CIA. But one of those suspects gets too close, and Cody has to stay with his aunt while his dad tracks down the man trying to kill them.

Cody is unprepared for the dangers of middle school. He has no idea how to manage the other students and he already knows everything they talk about in class. The bright spots in his life have narrowed to his aunt, his aunt's neighbor Andy, and the girl he likes--Renee.

But someone is stalking through the yard at night spying on Cody. And before he knows it, that someone gets the drop on him.

Interesting story--it seems a little far-fetched. But Cody is a believable character, and anyone in or out of middle school will recognize a lot of his struggle to fit in and become invisible. There is enough action throughout the book to stay interesting. A good quick read.

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Deidre's life is about to change, even though she doesn't know it. She heads to the high school to participate in a musical competition, nervous about her performance. Then Luke Dillon, the new boy, helps her out and suddenly her life is unraveling. She finds four-leaf clovers everywhere and she discovers she can move things with her mind.

Before she knows it, she's thrust into a large battle with the Faerie Queen, and everyone she cares about is in danger.

A great love story. There is enough action, suspense, and plot here to keep anyone entertained. Deidre is believable even if the adults aren't always, and her and Luke's story makes the novel fantastic.

Note: the sequel to Lament is Ballad and it's about James. I don't want to say much here, because it'll give away some of the things that happen in Lament, but it is another fantastic love story. Again, filled with action, suspense, and a storyline that is believable and fascinating.

Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser

Madison's former friend Lisa is missing. The problem? Madison and Tyler were the last to see her. But nothing bad ever happens in Soundview, so no one is worried at first. Then Adam, Lisa's boyfriend and Madison's best friend also goes missing, again with Madison being his last contact. The rumors say they ran off together, but Madison knows better. Then Courtney, another of Madison's friends, disappears, and Madison can't help but wonder if she'll be next.

You are definitely left wondering who the kidnappers are throughout the book, and the ending is a surprise. You get a glimpse of the killers' mind throughout along with other points of view. A fascinating read.

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Lyn is a typical teenager--in all but one area. Her family is part of the GSA (Gladiator Sports Association) and all that comes with it. Her mother has married seven times, and Tommy is Lyn's favorite stepfather. She and her younger brother Thad are pretty use to the life. Violence is a normal part of their routine.

When Tommy is defeated and killed in the ring and Lyn and her family's lives are thrown into disarray. Her stepfather's killer picks up her betrothal bracelet, and by GSA law, she must now marry him. Lyn, however, wants nothing to do with the GSA, especially as they threaten to take everything from her and her family.

Frantically, Lyn decides she must do the only thing she can to gain her freedom--step into the ring.

The story does lag at times, especially when Lyn is remembering things about her past or trying to figure out what to do next. These parts don't take away from the story at all--it's a breather between fight scenes and ensuing drama.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Alek is a prince to the Austrian-Hungarian throne and on the run for his life. His parents were murdered by their government, to start a war. Alek flees across Austria with two loyal masters and two commoners devoted to saving his life.

Deryn is a British commoner determined to join the air force and fly. Problem--she's a girl. So she disguises herself as a boy and manages board the airship Leviathan, a hybrid animal controlled by hydrogen and some machines.

Alek and Deryn have common enemies and when forced together, they become allies and friends. But neither knows where that will take them. Or the dangers they'll face.

A steampunk novel with a lot of action and suspense. The first in a series--and the action starts off the story and never quits. Notes at the end explain where Westerfeld got his ideas. I can't wait for the next in the series!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon is once again on the hunt and being hunted. This time, his friend Peter Solomon has been kidnapped and tortured to reveal his deepest secrets. His sister, Katherine, is also in danger, although she has no idea of what's going on. The clues to Peter's location and what the kidnapper is looking for lead Robert and Katherine across Washington D.C. with the CIA hot on their tail. Many twists, turns, and reversals pack the newest of Robert Langdon's adventures.

The Lost Symbol is full of the same stuff that made The Da Vinci Code a huge hit. There is plenty of history, conspiracy theories, symbolism, action, suspense, and science to keep anyone reading. The book was a little longer than it probably had to be, but that's to be expected. While the ending wasn't a total surprise, getting there was just as interesting and captivating as you would expect.

I may have had a few problems with the plethora of "?!" in the text, but other than that, I found The Lost Symbol another great story.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Nora isn't happy to have Patch for a lab partner in Biology, but their teacher won't be persuaded. Since they're lab partners, they spend more time together and Nora can't help some of the attraction she feels. Not only do they have to work on their lab projects, but Patch seems to show up in a variety of places or convinces Nora to meet him.

Nora has more problems then her growing attraction to Patch. She's managed to evade death too many times for her comfort and she wants to know his role. Patch knows she'll never believe he's a fallen angel, and his hands aren't completely clean when it comes to her near-death experiences.

Nora and Patch have an interesting relationship. This is a great supernatural romance. Patch's struggles to choose between what he should do and what he wants, while Nora struggles to keep herself alive. The storyline is plausible and well-written.

Fire by Kristin Cashore

In the Dells, a kingdom is on the brink of civil war. King Nash inherited his father's mess--his father's only aim to please his close friend Cansrel, a human monster who could control thoughts and lived to see others suffer.

Cansrel's daughter, Fire, shares his abilities, but not his taste for suffering. She has hidden away her entire life to avoid controlling people, invading their thoughts, and being hunted. But the King calls on her to help avoid losing his kingdom, and she can't refuse the chance to undo the terror her father thrived on.

Just as fascinating as Graceling, Fire involves drama, action, adventure, and romance. There are many elements at play here, and it seems Fire is the focus in most of them, just as Katsa was. Her bravery and courage turn out to be her greatest assets.

Monday, October 12, 2009

After by Amy Efaw

This story is graphic and heart-wrenching.

Devon stays home from school one day, laying on the couch and barely aware of what's going on around her. Her mother comes home from her graveyard shift, bubbly and talking constantly. The police are all over their neighborhood--someone found a baby in the dumpster behind their building. When the police show up at their door, Devon's mother lets them in so they can ask Devon if she's seen anything. Instead, they arrest her.

Devon doesn't really remember giving birth, or throwing the baby into the garbage. As she sits in juvenile detention, waiting for her hearing, she begins to recall the events that she's tried to block out. Did she intend to throw away the baby? Does she really know what happened THAT NIGHT?

Reading this book took some time. As much as you don't want to like Devon for what she did, it's impossible to hate her. The narrator takes you through all that goes through Devon's mind during the labor and birth, but only as Devon finally recalls and accepts what's happened. The author's note at the end explains why she chose to write a novel in the way that she did. And it worked. A fantastic first book, but not for the faint of heart.

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Calli's life is both good and bad. When her father is gone, it's great. She plays with Ben (her brother), her mother Antonia, and her best friend Peeta. When her father is home, life is full of fear. And Calli hasn't spoken in four years, since her mother fell down the stairs and lost her baby.

Peeta understands Calli without speech. They have a fast and steady friendship, looking out for each other. So when they are both found missing one morning, their parents assume they're together, out playing in the woods. The girls, however, seemed to have taken off in their pajamas, Calli without shoes, and both without telling anyone. Soon, everyone is desperate to find these two young girls.

This story takes place over one fateful and eventful day. It is told from the view point of Antonia, Martin (Peeta's father), Ben, Louis (Deputy Sheriff and friend of Antonia's), Calli, and occasionally, Peeta.

Well-written, a story of secrets, violence, fear, hope, and above all, family. I couldn't put it down.

Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis

Shelby has a love/hate relationship with the moon. She gets into the best kinds of trouble--boys--at night. She has the best intentions, but that doesn't seem to matter.

So she gets shipped off to therapy camp for the summer. The camp is suppose to "help" her, but also gets her out of her stepmom's hair. So, Shelby heads off to Camp Crescent, instead of the boot camp her stepmom suggests.

At Camp Crescent, Shelby really tries to be good. But she meets Austin. And Austin needs help, before the full moon. Shelby has to weigh being good, and helping a friend that really needs it.

A good romance. Not too heavy, but a good werewolf story too. Definitely a story about Shelby, and how you should accept the consequences, even if your intentions are good. The adults in the story weren't believable at times, but that's easily overlooked.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Aisling, Ash for short, lives in a small kingdom near a great forest. It is told there are fairies that live deep in the woods, and Aisling has heard stories about them her entire life. The old ways include revering and fearing the fairies, and her mother believed and lived by the old ways, while her father did not. When Ash's mother dies, Ash spends too much time with the grave, visiting her mother.

Ash's world is torn apart again after her father remarries and then dies. Ash moves to her stepmother's house and becomes their servant, supposedly because her father left them with debt. When she escapes to the woods to get away from her awful step-family, she meets Sidhean, whom she is convinced is a fairy. She also meets Keira, the King's Huntress. As she spends more time with each, she is torn between her attraction to Keira and her desire to go with Sidhean and see her mother again.

This is a retelling of the Cinderella story with a very different outcome. Ash is a great character and her story is well-told and engrossing. The ending seems a little too neat, considering the build-up to what fairies expect in return for their favors. Still, a great twist to an old favorite.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen

What would the Bennets' life been like with zombies?

You're about to find out! A humorous retelling of the famous Bennet sisters who are not only husband-hunting, they're also zombie-hunting. Having trained in 'inferior' China (as opposed to Japan) the sisters are well known for their fighting skills and kills of zombies in Hertfordshire. Having to give up killing zombies once they are married, the sisters struggle between their father's insistence in fighting and their mother's insistence in attending balls and dinners.

Mr. Bingley makes an appearance as the purchaser of Netherfield, and our story begins. Instead of playing piano, the girls often demonstrate their abilities fighting zombies. All of your favorite characters are here, as Grahame-Smith took the original story and inserted zombies, a few tongue-in-cheek comments, and loosened the language.

If you're a die-hard Austen fan, you may not like this version of Pride and Prejudice. I had a hard time with it at times--especially when a comment made by Mr. Bennet or Mr. Darcy would be ignored by the recipient even though polite society wouldn't have allowed such bad behavior.

Despite these drawbacks, I found the story amusing and well done.

The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children by Keith McGowan

It's Hanzel and Gretel all over again...only not. Sol and Connie move to Grand Creek with their family to start over. What they don't realize is their parents moved there for a specific purpose. There's a fable told of a witch that takes troublesome children from their parents. But Sol and Connie aren't troublesome--just unwanted. But they don't know that.

Sol and Connie wonder when they don't see any other children in their new town. And they wonder when the next door neighbor, Fay Holaderry, takes a special interest in them. There's something not right about her.

An illustrated story about a brother and sister who are fairly clever and knowledgeable. Fans of Lemony Snicket will also enjoy this novel!

Soulstice by Simon Holt

Soulstice picks up six months after The DeVouring ends. It's summer now, and Reggie, Adam, and Henry are all trying to get back to normal after their harrowing adventure the winter before. That is, until Quinn shows up, back from the "dead" and Adam is attacked by other Vours.

Reggie now fears the Vours will come after Henry once again, but their new target is her. Now that she can enter fearscapes, they believe she can break all the rules for them. It's a contest to see will succeed. And as the Summer Solstice approaches, all bets are off.

Just as good as the first book, this story packs a punch. Creepy and strangely fascinating all at the same time. Don't miss the first book The DeVouring and stay tuned for the third!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind

Alex has no idea the fate that's awaiting him as he sees a truck barreling down on him as he's walking down the street. Without thinking, he reaches out and saves the woman standing nearby.

What happens next is impossible for Alex to believe. The woman he saves, Jax, says she's in his world to find him. He's the only one that can save her world. Alex refuses to believe, at least until too many things happen that can't be explained. Soon, he and Jax are on the run and hiding from men out to kill them.

All of this revolves around some land Alex inherited when he turned 27. And the gateway to another world that is somewhere on that land.

If you haven't read the Sword of Truth series first, you'll still understand what's going on in this book. However, you won't get some of the more interesting and subtle hints to what's going on and understanding Jax's story. Otherwise, this is yet another great book by Goodkind. Lots of action, a love story, and magic all wrapped up together in a great package.

The Declaration by Gemma Malley

In the future, everyone takes a drug called Longevity. Because of this drug, no one dies. To relieve the strain on the world's resources, if you take the drug you aren't allowed to have children. Imagine a world where there are no children.

But some people have children anyway. When their caught, they're sent to jail, and their children are either killed or sent to a detention hall to learn how to become servants to the Legals.

Anna is one such child. Captured when she was two, she's only known life at Grange Hall. She's strived her whole life to make up for her parents' Sin and become a Valuable Asset to the world. She's so close to being given to a Legal and leaving the hall for good. And then Peter comes.

Peter's also a Surplus, and been on the Outside for most of his young life. He says he came to Grange Hall for one thing--to find Anna. He knows her parents and they want her back.

Now Anna has to decide who she's going to believe.

It's scary to think of this being a possible future. The story is well told and written. Anna's story is touching and heartbreaking.

Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti

Marisa is a sophomore and determined to turn her social status around. She suffers from anxiety disorder, and spent the last quarter of school the year before at home, unable to deal with school or people.

This year seems to be off to a good start. Derek, the boy she likes, seems to like her. Nash, her friend from 4th grade, is interested in being friends again. And Dirk--well, she doesn't know who Dirk is. He runs a radio show for their high school, but no one knows who he really is.

Marisa's life takes a bad turn and knowing who she can depend on is almost a matter of life and death.

Well written, Marissa seems authentic and real.

Take Me There by Susane Colasanti

Rhiannon has just been dumped by her boyfriend Steve for no reason. She's heart-broken and desperate to get him back. She can't believe things ended the way they did.

Nicole broke up with her boyfriend Danny when her feelings were getting a little out of her control. She also has a massive crush on her math teacher. And some other issues that she may find hard to overcome.

James is feeling pressure from all sides. His feelings for Rhiannon have gone past friendship but he doesn't know how to tell her that. Everything he tries ends up wrong.

See how things manage to get completely out of control and then back together in just one week.

Another good romance from Colasanti. This one is also told in alternative voice, from the viewpoints of Rhiannon, Nicole, and James. Each of their stories is told 3 days at a time.

When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

Told from the viewpoints of Sara and Tobey, this is a story of finding the one you want to be with.

Sara has felt invisible around school and with guys. Then Dave, one of the most popular guys in school, asks her out. She can't believe that it's happening. Soon she's spending a lot of time with Dave and his friends. But she's not sure that Dave is what she wants as their relationship continues.

Tobey has been interested in Sara for a while, just too shy to say anything to her about it. When she starts dating Dave, he feels his chances have all been taken away. With the encouragement of his band mates and her friends, he decides to show her who she is really meant to be with.

A very well-told romance from two points of view. Light-hearted chick-lit.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten

Ellie's sister has been missing for the past two years, and Ellie just can't let it go. When she sees sisters together or someone who looks like her sister, it all comes back.

Then Ellie meets Sean who seems to understand her need to find Nina. And he wants to help. The clues Ellie finds lead the two of them across the country in a bizarre road trip.

But Ellie has to wonder just how devoted Sean is, and why he seems so sure of where they're going and what they're looking for.

I enjoyed the story, although it was a little hard to get into at first. The story is told from Ellie's point of view, and her pain and anguish at missing her sister is very real and intense. The story hits some predictable points, but it's still well-told and adventurous.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Frankie is a sophomore at Alabaster, a private boarding school known for its famous alumni. Last year, Frankie hung out with her older sister, on the outskirts of the popular crowd. This year, she manages to snag the attention of senior Matthew Livingston.

Matthew belongs to a secret society on campus called the Basset Hounds. The Basset Hounds have been responsible for several pranks and parties on campus, but Matthew doesn't share that information with Frankie, even when it appears she might actually be aware of the secret society.

So Frankie decides to take action. Instead of trying to infiltrate the group, she decides to become their mastermind and begins supplying the boys with ideas, keys, and locations for their pranks.

This is the story of how an intelligent, attractive, and independent teen becomes a criminal mastermind.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters

Kiss of Life picks up a couple of weeks after the end of Generation Dead, with a few new twists. It's hard to talk about the sequel to a book without revealing what happens at the end of the first, but I'm going to try.

First of all, this book is told a little differently than Generation Dead. This book varies focus on many of the main characters and jumps between what they are all doing. But at the heart of the novel is a story about acceptance, tolerance, and prejudice. And tragedy.

Tommy decides it's time to take his message out to Washington and so he leaves with Karen and Phoebe in charge of his website. The girls grow a strong bond, as Margi and Colette have reconciled and spend a lot of time together. Phoebe struggles to spend time with Adam, and Pete...well, Pete is up to his usual tricks, only this time he has help.

A still very powerful novel. I had to put it down several times today because I was getting anxious/sad/angry/nervous about what was going to happen.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Nina Harrison has been a vampire for the past 30 years, but never tasted human blood. She's spent that time coping with nausea, weakness, and her generally boring life. She belongs to the Vampire Support Group, a group of vampires who attempt to live without biting humans.

Then one of the members is murdered in his sleep and the group must figure out who the murderer is before they all become victims. Nina heads out with her friend Dave, another vampire, to find the person responsible. They find more than they expected and soon their boring life is anything but.

A great story--I enjoyed reading about a different kind of vampire for once. There's a little bit of romance involved, but not much. Lots of action and an occasional glimpse of a werewolf.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Losing Christina series by Caroline B Cooney

I couldn't believe it when I found this series on the shelf in the library I work in now! I loved this series when I was in middle school.

The Fog
Christina is beginning 7th grade and that means moving to the mainland for school. She'll be boarding with three others from Burning Fog Island--Benj, Michael, and Anya. She isn't looking forward from being separated from her parents, but believes she'll make lots of friends and enjoy school.

But things aren't always as they seem. The Islanders live with the Shevvingtons, and as soon as they move into the Inne, weird things start to happen. Anya believes the sea is out to get her, and can't maintain her grades or interest in anything but avoiding the sea. Are the Shevvingtons causing Anya's breakdowns? Can Christina save her?

The Snow
The winter opens with Dolly, Benj and Michael's younger sister, joining the boarders on the mainland. Dolly's only in 6th grade, but the Shevvingtons pulled some strings to get their next victim in place.

Meanwhile, Christina continues to be careful. She is aware that the Shevvingtons aren't going to just give up on her, Anya, or Dolly. But now it seems like there's someone else in the Inne. Someone else who may have a plan for the girls living there.

The Fire
The end of the school year is near, and Christina can't wait to go home. She figures with only a few days left, nothing can go wrong.

Christina also meets Val, one of the Shevvingtons' victims. During that visit, Val gets the courage to do something she's never attempted--she runs away from the mental institution she was put into. Straight to Christina. Can she save herself and Val before the Shevvingtons find out?

This is a great series and story about a seventh grader who has a clearer picture of what's happening in her life than all the adults around her. Everyone is convinced the Shevvingtons are fantastic people, and only Christina, and their victims, can see the truth. And no matter what, Christina can't give up.

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Something's wrong with the world's teenagers. If they die, they don't stay dead--they come back to life. Sort of. Not your typical zombies though.

Phoebe, Adam, and Margi go to high school with some of those undead. And they join a group that's working towards tolerance and acceptance of the living impaired. Phoebe has an ulterior motive--she has a crush on Tommy. Adam has an ulterior motive--Phoebe. Not everyone is happy with accepting the living impaired in the school, their lives, and in society in general. Tensions build and just when you think this is a simple romance novel, the twists come out to surprise you.

This was a great first novel. I'm not always in the mood for a chick lit, but this wouldn't classify. There are many things about this book that I enjoyed. The sequel, Kiss of Life, is out now too!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Youngest Templar by Michael Spadlin

Tristan is an orphan, living at St. Alban's Abbey. The monks and the Abbey are all he's known in his short life. The work is hard but Tristan doesn't mind it too much.

His entire future changes, however, when a band of Knights Templar come through the nearby village. Sir Thomas, one of the most honored knights in England, seeks Tristan out to become his squire. The Knights are headed to the Holy Land to continue the Crusades, and Sir Thomas wants Tristan to go along with and train to become a knight.

Not all of the Knights are happy with Sir Thomas' choice or with Tristan himself. Tristan finds himself in danger before the Knights even leave England. Before long, the Knights themselves are cornered in a siege that looks hopeless. Sir Thomas gives Tristan one last duty--to see the Holy Grail back to England, through enemy lines. Tristan's in a far-off land with no idea of how to get home.

The first book in a series, this tale involves action and mystery. The story ends in a cliffhanger, so be looking out for Book 2!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Guardian by Joyce Sweeney

Hunter has been in foster care for most of his life. He's never had luck when it comes to families either. The first three families he was placed with didn't work out, and just when he started to think living with Mike, Stephanie, and their three foster daughters would work, Mike dies.

Stephanie feels the kids should be supporting her instead of the other way around. And she especially doesn't like Hunter, since it was Mike's idea to bring in a boy. So when good things start happening around him, he believes his guardian angel has come back to keep him safe from bullies and from Stephanie. Little does he know who is posing as his guardian angel...or the danger.

An interesting twist and entertaining story. Hunter tells this story from his point of view.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter

Cammie's back and enjoying her last few days of vacation before starting her junior year. She meets Macey on the campaign trail--Macey's dad is running for vice-president. While hanging out and following Macey's agenda, the girls are attacked, and only by quick thinking and luck do they escape with their lives.

But now Macey requires Secret Service protection and her parents want her out on the campaign trail where sympathetic voters can be swayed to vote for her father. Cammie's aunt comes back into the picture to help, and soon all the girls are thrown into a game they were never meant to play. Who were the kidnappers really after? What was their purpose? And will the girls survive?

A great new book in the Gallagher Girls series. Make sure to read the first two!

The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint

Grace's life isn't all that it use to be. After her grandfather dies, she mopes around and refuses to go out and participate in life. The only thing that soothes her is working on old cars. Then fate intervenes, and she's shot while out buying cigarettes.

John's been leading no life at all. He works, he draws, and he sometimes hangs out with his friends. The Halloween Nina convinces him to go out changes his entire life. Because he meets Grace.

John and Grace meet that Halloween night. The problem? Grace isn't alive anymore. And as she struggles to find out why she's in limbo, John discovers a life he's never dreamed of living.

An interesting book told in alternative points of view. Grace's story is the main one here, and becomes the focus more as the story goes on. Highly entertaining read!

Monday, May 11, 2009

School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer

Angela's parents don't know what to do with her after her grandfather dies. She's been getting into one form of trouble or another for years, so they send her off to Hidden Oaks, a school for troubled young women. A school that has a reputation for changing their behavior.

Once Angela arrives, though, she realizes the school is not what it seems. For the first month, the new girls are kept secluded from the rest of the students, and given harsh lessons about their behavior. In groups, the girls disappear towards the end of the month, and Angela can't help but wonder where the people she got to know ended up. Determined to find her friends and figure out what the school is up to, she breaks too many rules and finds out for herself the true mission of the school.

An interesting idea and story line.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Lia wakes up one morning to terrible news. Her best friend until 6 months ago was found dead in a hotel alone. She died as a direct result of her eating disorder.

Both girls have had eating disorders. Lia has been hospitalized twice, but all that did was teach her how to better hide her problem. But when she gets to 90 pounds, it's hard to hide that she isn't eating. Cassie ate too much, then purged to get rid of it. The girls encouraged each other to stay thin, even to the point of competing to see who could be the skinniest.

Now Lia's being haunted by her demons and Cassie's. Cassie called Lia the night she died and was ignored. And it seems that Cassie is more than ready to let Lia follow her to the grave.

This book is written in a way to pull you into Lia's world. However, this book is not for the faint of heart, as it talks about how Lia starves and cuts herself. The story is very powerful, moving, and emotional.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Isabel and her younger sister Ruth were suppose to be freed when their mistress and owner passed away. But the old woman's will can't be found, and Isabel and Ruth are sold the very same day.

The Lockwoods take the sisters to New York City. It's 1776, and the Revolutionary War is just warming up. The Lockwoods are Loyalists and are anxiously awaiting news of British forces. Isabel, believing the Patriots can free her and her sister, begin to spy for the Patriots. She has no idea of the fate awaiting her with this decision.

This novel is told from Isabel's point of view. Isabel's life is not easy, and this story definitely shows that. A great story and well written.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Eternal by Cynthia Leigh Smith

Miranda was suppose to die. Zachary knew that. But he couldn't help himself--he saved her. Which threw them both off the map.

Zachary is Miranda's guardian angel. He's watched out for her her entire life. But when he sees a chance to alter her destiny, he takes it. He saves her, in time for her to forfeit her soul. Because of his intervention, she's turned into a vampire. And now they're both in trouble.

Told in alternating voices, and taking place in the same world as Tantalize, Eternal is a fantastic story of two lost souls unsure of where they belong.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vampire Diaries--The Return: Nightfall by L. J. Smith

Elena is back from the dead, but not completely. Her time on the Other Side has given her Powers that make her more than human. She and Stefan slowly adapt to her new abilities and their life together.

But a new evil quietly slides into Fells Church and begins infecting several young women. Damen, in the wrong place at the wrong time, also gets infected. Then Stefan disappears and Elena and her friends don't know where to start looking for him. Meanwhile, the Old Woods turn against everyone who enters.

Can Elena, Bonnie, Meredith, and Matt find the courage and strength to fight this new evil? Can they trust Damen? And for Elena's sake--can they find Stefan?

A great book, continuing the Vampire Diaries series.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

It's 1969 and Bliss is moving to Georgia to live with her grandmother. Up until this point, she's lived with her parents no matter where they are, but as her dad dodges the draft, they send Bliss off in order to attend school.

Bliss has never really been around people her own age before, and feels a little out of sorts. She starts high school, and soon realizes not everything is what it seems. Still, she makes friends, even if she doesn't like them all the time.

But something evil is waiting for her in Hamilton Hall--one of the oldest building on campus. A young woman killed herself there many years ago, and is waiting for someone to bring her back to life.

A great and thrilling story. Each chapter begins with a quote from the times, including the Charles Manson trials, tv, and well-known people from the 60s and 70s.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bonechiller by Graham McNamee

Danny and his dad have moved around a lot since his mom died. Their latest home, Harvest Cove, feels like the end of the earth to Danny. But he's made friends and even though he knows better, he starts to get attached.

Then, one night on his way home, he's attacked by a beast that doesn't seem to be real. Can't be real. He has only a few memories of the attack, but the blue spot on his hand and the footprints he finds in the snow convince him he may not be hallucinating. Then his friend Howie is attacked by the same creature. Another boy goes missing. And they both start to have nightmares and hear voices.

With the beast still out on the hunt for them, can they find a way to escape?

A great novel with action, suspense, and creepy horror.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I, Q by Roland Smith

Q and Angela's parents just got married. Right after the ceremony, Q, Angela, and their parents leave for their cross-country tour--their parents are musicians. Q figures this will be the time to learn a little more about Angela, and find out what his new step-sister is like.

He gets a little more than he bargained for, since Angela believes she's being followed. Her mother, a Secret Service agent who died during a terrorist attack, taught her to be vigilant. Angela is convinced she's being followed, and what's more--she's right. She's being used as bait, hoping to draw her mother out of hiding.

Now Q and Angela have to figure out who they can and can't trust, as everyone seems to switch sides at the drop of a hat.

A great action novel.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Nobody Owens was just a toddler when Jack snuck into his home and murdered his family. Nobody managed to escape, and found refuge in the cemetery nearby.

That's where things get a little strange. Mr. and Mrs. Owens decide to take Nobody, or Bod, in and bring him up. They're ghosts who have been dead for a few hundred years. Together with the other ghosts in their graveyard, they raise Bod.

But then Jack comes back, more determined than ever to finish the job...

An engrossing and fun read. Lots of action and suspense as well.

This book won the Newbery Award.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

I'm not a fan of short story collections, mostly because the words end before the story does. This book is different.

Each story is very weird yet fascinating. The illustrations accompanying each story add more than just words could ever do. The format of some of the stories, including an entire story written through pieces of scrap paper, and another story told in the format of a newspaper article--newspaper included, add new ways to see details described within each story.

This is definitely a book you need to check out!

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve

Gwyna barely escapes with her life as Arthur and his band come through her master's estate, burning and pillaging. Running away, she encounters Myrddin, the bard that travels with Arthur. Myrddin takes her in, and after her appearance as Lady of the Lake, dresses her as Gwyn, his servant.

And so Gwyna's story begins. She travels with Myrddin far and wide, spreading stories of Arthur's great deeds--all of which are lies. Myrddin himself is the means to Arthur's greatness, a greatness that outlived the monster in real life.

This is an interesting tale of the King Arthur legend, played out through a young servant's eyes. Gwyna is not always quick on what is happening, but her place in Arthur's world gives an interesting point of view not often heard.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss and her family live in District 12 of the land known as Panem, in an area that was once North America. Every year, two "contestants" are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal reminder to each District why the Council is in control.

Katniss knows she's at risk of being chosen--she has put her name into the drawing more than once each year, in order to get extra food for her, her mother, and her younger sister.

But when Prim, Katniss' 12-year old sister, is chosen, Katniss volunteers to go in her place. The other contestant is Peera, the baker's son, a boy Katniss barely knows. They travel to the Central City, to participate in a competition to the death. That is just the beginning of Katniss and Peera's journey through the Hunger Games.

This is the first book in a series, which promises to be full of action, adventure, and some of the darker sides of human nature.

Sucks to be Me by Kimberly Pauley

Mina has a secret, one she's kept most of her life. Her parents are vampires. What she didn't know was that her parents were keeping a secret too--her. Then one night, she opens the front door and their lives come crashing down.

Now Mina has ever more pressure looming over her head--school, of course--but vampire classes too. She has to decide whether or not she should become a vampire. Upside, she'll get to stay in contact with her parents and the friends she's made in her vampire classes. Downside, she'll never see her best friend again.

All this before she turns 17.

An amusing and entertaining first novel. The chapters begin with vampire myths and the "truth." Mina is a sarcastic yet upbeat character who is believable and fun.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Godless by Pete Hautman

Jason decides--almost on a whim--to found a new religion with the town's water tower as a god. He convinces Shin, Magda, and a bully--Henry--to follow his new religion. They come up with "rules" and guidelines to follow.

Jason believes it's all fun and games, even though Henry wants to do more dangerous stunts on the water tower, and Shin begins to believe he's talking to it. Shin takes the whole idea to the extreme, and Jason isn't sure how to talk him out of it. Jason soon realizes the influence he has over those around him.

A great example of the influences you have on others--without knowing it. The book is a short, fast read, with compelling characters. This book and the Gospel According to Larry have some of the same themes.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Nick is a drummer in a small band outside of New York City. The rest of his group is gay, so he is usually left on his own when it comes to their gigs. Nick spots his ex-girlfriend, Trish, in the crowd one night while at a gig. Trish dumped him hard and he's still sensitive about it, so when he sees her with her new boyfriend, he panics. He turns to the girl next to him and asks her if she'll pretend to be his girlfriend for five minutes.

Norah has no idea why Nick wants to pretend to be her boyfriend, but she sees Trish in the crowd--a girl from school--and kisses Nick in order to avoid speaking to her. She, of course, knows who Nick is--Trish complained about him all the time.

Little did they know what would start with one little kiss. And a night of adventures.

Fast-paced tale of the night club scene in New York, new love, old hurts, and everything inbetween. New relationships can lead to many misinterpretations, and this book has quite a few of them. Told from both Nick and Norah's points of view, this is a fantastic story.

And don't watch the movie--the movie was horrible.

Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton

Chloe Hobbs is the only human living in Sugar Maple. And she is their only salvation.

Descended from a long line of sorceresses, Chloe must find a way to get her magic in order to save the town from outsiders. A charm cast by her ancestor provided that as long as someone in her line was around to keep the magic going, the town would be a safe haven for all magical beings--werewolves, vampires, trolls, and the fae. However, with Chloe still not accessing her magic, that charm is losing power.

Then someone dies. The first death since Chloe's parents. And the investigation brings in an outsider--a cop who has to investigate. And suddenly, Chloe's whole world is turned upside down.

A humorous and charming romance story. For those who love knitting, you'll get a kick out of a main character who owns a yarn store, and can teach anyone how to knit. Tips and tricks are listed in the back of the book. If you don't really like magical beings, you'll still like the book!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

If you're a fan of Harry Potter, you'll want to read this book! Translated by Hermione Granger and with special notes after each tale by Dumbledore, this book provides more insight into the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Dumbledore's notes at the end of each tale provide insight into the story itself, as well as some of his own life. And the last tale in the book, "The Tale of the Three Brothers", is the story of the Elder Wand, the Invisibility Cloak, and the stone Harry uses in the last battle with Voldemort.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

When Evie's stepdad returns from World War II, things seem to settle back into normal life quickly. Evie spends time with her best friend and waits for the next year to pass so she can do things she feels she's old enough to do--wear lipstick and go out with boys.

Things are only normal on the outside. Evie begins to see hints at some of the lies and stories Joe, her stepdad, shares with her and her mom. When they suddenly take off for a vacation to Palm Beach, Florida at the end of the summer, she knows something is not right. But when she meets Peter Coleridge, a 23-year old who seems to know Joe pretty well, she decides to ignore the warning signs. Before she knows it, her family is dragged into a tragedy that very well may tear it apart.

Well-written and a great historical novel.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Revealers by Amanda Marrone

Julia and her friends have been hunting things that go bump in the night since they were 13 years old. Together they have gotten rid of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, you name it.

As they all approach their 18th birthdays, one by one they are inducted officially into their coven, and told some of the secrets their mothers have hidden from them for years. The girls learn how they came to have their power, and the pact that was signed by their ancestors.

Jules, the youngest of the group, begins to wonder if they should continue with the old ways, especially when she sees how three of her friends handle whatever secrets they are told. When her best friend, Dani, is attacked, Jules stands up to the forces controlling her and the coven.

A well-written novel with lots of action. If you like witches or occult fiction, this one's for you!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The DeVouring by Simon Holt

Reggie tries to be a typical teenager, but since her mom ran away and her dad buried himself in work, she has become responsible for her younger brother Henry as well.

One night, she decides to read to him from a journal she found, written in the 70s. The story is told by a young girl whose brother is possessed by what she calls the Vours. They come to you when you are the most fearful, and on Winter Solstice.

Reggie doesn't believe in the Vours, but Henry does. Then things start to happen--especially to Henry--that make Reggie rethink her earlier decision.

A great horror story. I'm sure there will be a sequel down the road.

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Lucy Scarborough has no idea the fate that awaits her when she heads to her junior prom. A somewhat normal teenager, Lucy has lots of friends and a great foster family. The only dark spot in her life is her real mother, who is crazy and has a habit of appearing at the worst possible times and places--like the night of Lucy's junior prom.

Then Lucy is raped after prom by her date, who kills himself. And then Lucy finds herself pregnant and begins to realize that maybe her mother isn't so crazy after all. Lucy has only until the birth of her daughter to end the curse and insanity that has haunted her family for generations by solving the riddles hidden in an old melody "The Scarborough Fair".

A fantastic novel with all the elements of a fairy tale.