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!