Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Will Henry is the assistant to a monstrumologist--someone who studies "life forms generally malevolent to humans and not recognized by science as actual organisms, specifically those considered products of myth and folklore". He's use to the unnatural hours, the demands the doctor makes on his time and his life for the past year since his parents' deaths.

One night, a grave robber brings a strange bundle to the monstrumologist's house with no explanation. The doctor takes one look and is sure they have a big problem on their hands--the bundle turns out to be the body of a young woman with a monstrosity wrapped around her. The monster has no head, a mouth with a lot of teeth in the middle of its chest, and eyes in its shoulders. The doctor is shocked to see such a creature in New England and so begins Will's even more bizarre life hunting monsters and puzzles.

As frightening the concept, especially since they go hunt the monsters in their underground lair, there is a lot of science in this horror tale. Will narrates this story that covers a few days. The story is engrossing and would be most interesting for older teens.

Possessed by Kate Cann

Rayne lives with her mom and younger brother in London. Their apartment is oppressive, as is their neighborhood. So oppressive all Rayne can think of is escape. She wants to get away from people, from all the noise.

She can't believe her luck when she finds a job posting for a tea room in a remote country estate far from London. A chance to get away.

Morton's Keep isn't exactly what she was expecting when she arrived for the interview or to start her job. The house itself is full of history, anger, rage, and malice. That history is not at all pleasant, as Rayne learns some of the murders, executions, and torture that happened within the manor's walls. Her new group of friends are fascinated with the place, especially Sir John. Rayne is more than a little disturbed by their interest and with other things she sees around the grounds and surrounding forest. She's determined to figure out what's happening before anything else happens.

The story itself reminds me of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Witchlight and The Inheritor, although not quite as creepy or dark. The setting is vivid and characters believable. There were a few moments where I had to suspend disbelief, but other than that, I enjoyed the story.

Numbers by Rachel Ward

Jem has a secret--one that makes her avoid getting too close to anyone. When she looks someone in the eye, she can see the date of their death. It's been that way for as long as she can remember, even with her mom's death.

As must as she tries to avoid him, Spider, a guy at her school, gets through her defenses and somehow they become friends. Then one day they're at the London Eye, and everyone Jem sees has the same death date--that day. She runs, Spider chases, minutes before a bomb goes off.

Now the two are on the run--they're suspects. And Jem knows time is running out--Spider's date is looming closer and closer.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The author's from England, and some of the slang is hard to follow. However, the story itself is entertaining and well-written. There is some foreshadowing that hints at what will happen in the end.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Claudia has spent her whole life to marry the prince and heir to the kingdom. The only thing--the heir has changed. Her first betrothed died suddenly, or did he? Court intrigue and politics have found their way to her home as she prepares for the wedding that will make her queen.

Finn has spent at least three years in Incarceron--a type of prison. No one has ever gone in or out, so the people closest to Finn don't believe he's ever been Outside. The prison is alive and keeping an eye on him and the thousands of other people trapped in its depths. There are several levels or wing to the prison, and as Finn and his friends try to escape, they find more than they bargain for.

Claudia and Finn communicate through crystal keys they each have. Claudia believes he is her missing betrothed, while Finn is just happy there's an Outside to the prison, and hopefully a means for his escape.

Interesting concept for this book. The future is bleak and set in the past. The prison life is a little violent, but the story is solid. It does take a while to get going, but once the story picks up and the characters start moving, it goes quickly. Sounds like there will be a sequel too.

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Kaylee has a special gift--only she sees it as a curse. When she sees someone who is about to die, she has an almost uncontrollable urge to scream. She manages to keep it inside, since the last time she actually screamed, she was sent to a mental hospital for months.

But one night, she and her friend Emma sneak into a nightclub and Kaylee sees a girl she knows is going to die. Somehow she manages to escape without screaming, and Nash, a guy from her school, calms her down before she can let the scream go. And then another girl dies, and then yet another. Kaylee can't help but think they're all connected--and all her fault. Nash seems to know more than he's letting on, but he hesitates to tell her what's going on.

Until Kaylee decides she has to figure out the connection between all the deaths and herself. Something that pulls everyone she cares about into the mess.

An interesting story. Kaylee doesn't know what's going on for a little bit longer than the reader might catch on, but that's to be expected. There's some romance here, but most of it concerns the mystery surrounding the deaths of the young women and Kaylee's family history.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Cameron is coasting through high school and life in general. The less he has to do, the better. That includes his job, school, and home.

Then he becomes sick--deathly sick. He has the human version of mad cow disease, and his life expectancy has shortened to months.

While he's in the hospital, he sees an angel Dulcie. He has two weeks to find a Dr. X, save the world, and get cured. Cameron and Gonzo, a dwarf in the same hospital room, escape the hospital to begin a road trip they'll remember for the rest of their lives. Fire-giants are entering our dimension and reeking havoc and appearing when Cameron least expects them. The Wizard of Reckoning is after Cameron, Gonzo, and Dr. X. Cameron has to face him and his disease.

A great fantasy. Glimpses at what's truly going on appear throughout the book. Many twists, turns, and unexpected humor can be found throughout the story. Lots of action, adventure, and excitement.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

Lucy's best friend Solange Drake is going to become a vampire. And soon. She'll turn on her sixteenth birthday, or die. Vampires are coming out of the woodwork, wanting to be close to her, kill her, or just kidnap her.

Solange knows there's a prophecy saying she'll be a vampire queen. She's the first female vampire to be born--the rest have been created. But everything is happening too fast.

Before they know it, they're hunted by other vampires and vampire hunters, all with varying motives. The only people Solange can rely on are Lucy and her family, and strangely, one of the vampire hunters Kiernan. But she'd rather save them than the other way around.

Told from Lucy and Solange's points of view. Both have love interests (of course) and both fight for their existence. Lucy and Nicholas (one of Solange's brothers) take the stage towards the end as they race to save Solange before it's too late. Romance, action, and more vampire lore. Good thing I can't get enough of it!

You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay

Megan's a Settler--someone who helps the dead complete their unfinished business so they can move on. The zombies find her wherever she might be--but Megan's power has been dormant for many years. Or so she thought. Then a zombie appears on her doorstep one night and she realizes her powers are coming back.

Her power is stronger than anyone expected. An old friend comes back, Ethan, to help her control her powers and to make sure she follows all the rules. Unfortunately, it seems Megan is the target for a dark witch who is unleashing all sorts of zombies out to get her.

I enjoyed yet another zombie book. There's romance, action, and suspense, of course. A good combination of magic and zombies.

The sequel to this is called Undead Much? and it's pretty good--the storyline twists a bit. I enjoyed them both and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

They Never Came Back by Caroline B Cooney

Cathy never expected Tommy to see his cousin Murielle in her face. But he does. In the middle of a crowded lunchroom during summer school.

His outburst causes an avalanche. His parents--mom especially--are convinced Cathy is Murielle. Five years ago, Murielle's parents fled the country before they were arrested for stealing money from their clients, and Murielle was left behind. Murielle was then placed in foster care, and that was the last Tommy and his parents saw of her.

Cathy is adamant that she is not Murielle, but Tommy, his parents, and their classmates aren't so sure. Then the FBI gets involved and suddenly all secrets must be told.

The book is told from Cathy and Murielle's points of view. Cathy's takes place in present tense, and Murielle's takes place in the past. The story is deep and heartfelt.

Traitor by Andy McNabb

Danny Watts has always wanted to be in the British army. He's gotten through all the trials, sure he's going to pass, when they reject him. The reason? Danny's grandfather is a traitor to the country. Fergus Watts turned his back on Britain to work for drug runners in Columbia. Danny decides he's going to find Fergus and make him pay for ruining his life.

Fergus is not what Danny expected, when he tracks him down. And Fergus knows Danny was just a pawn to find him for Fergus' enemies--the real traitor. Now the two of them are on a mission to clear Fergus' name and avoid the MI-6 agents that are out to get them out of the way--by any means necessary.

A lot of spy jargon goes into this book, but it all fits. Lots of action, adventure, suspense, and espionage. Fans of Alex Rider and James Bond will eat this book up!

7 Days at the Hot Corner by Terry Trueman

Baseball is Scott's life. He plays 3rd base--the hot corner--and loves it. Baseball has always been his refuge.

Then his best friend, Travis, tells him he's gay. And Scott's life is turned upside down and all he can think about is what everyone else will think when they find out.
Scott also worries he might have gotten HIV from Travis, who bled all over him a few months before. The HIV test takes 5 business days, 7 days total, for Scott to find out the truth. His entire future is in doubt--in his own mind anyway.

This begins the seven longest days of his life. In those seven days, Scott struggles to understand his friendship with Travis, his family, and still focus enough to win the state championship ball game.

A very short book that focuses on gays, HIV, baseball, divorce, and friendship. Scott isn't a likeable character right away--too self-absorbed. He grows on you.

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters

Daelyn Rice has tried to commit suicide and failed. Now she can't talk and has to wear a neck brace, which sets her even more out of the crowd. She just wants it all to be over with.

Then she finds a Members are given 23 days to completion (death). At first that seems too long, but Daelyn realizes she wants someone to know her story--wants them to know all the things that happened to her.

During those 23 days, Daelyn sees another girl at school being treated the way she once was, and she meets Santana--a guy who hangs around her school everyday. Both people play a part in Daelyn's final decision.

The book starts on day 23 and ticks down to the "Day of Completion". This is a painful and powerful book on bullying, bullycide, and suicide.