Monday, June 28, 2010

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

14-year old Sig didn't know what to expect when he found his father's body in the middle of the lake between their home and the nearest town. But when his sister and stepmother leave to go get help, he didn't anticipate a stranger showing up at their door.

Wolff isn't just a stranger--he's a terrifying giant stranger. He appears to know the family quite well, and demands Sig hand over his share of the gold his father stole. Sig has no idea what gold--they've lived in poverty their whole lives. Wolff is serious about his demand and threatens to kill both Sig and Anna if they don't hand over the gold immediately. Sig knows there's a gun in the store room, but can he get to it before Wolff makes good on his threat?

A great book for reluctant readers. This is historical fiction, but the chapters are pretty small, and something is always going on. The chapters flip from 1910 (present day) back 10 years to 1899 and 1900, and the Alaskan Gold Rush. You get both sides of the story, and there's a twist that is set up nicely through the book.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Ty has been watching Gemma for the past six years. He's watched over her, left her gifts, and kept his eye on everything around her. But Gemma doesn't know that. Not until it's too late.

Gemma wakes up to find she's no longer at the Bangkok airport where she met Ty, but the middle of the outback in Australia. And Ty has no intention of ever letting her go. Escape seems impossible, especially since there are no signs of civilization any where. And that's only the beginning. What can she do but go along with what Ty wants? At least until she can figure out a way to escape.

I really enjoyed reading this story. It's told from Gemma's point of view, but she's writing to Ty, explaining to him how she felt about being abducted and held hostage. The ending does come with a little twist, and I ended up actually liking Ty. There are a few inconsistencies with the story, but on the whole, it was interesting. There's not a lot of action--but some--but the story is written well enough to hold your attention.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

Jill Jekel can't believe her father is dead. At the funeral, Tristan Hyde seems to be the only one who really understands her pain. But before she realizes it, Tristan also disappears.

Then Jill finds out her dad spent her college fund and stole from the college he worked for. Jill hopes she can win a chemistry contest and scholarship to replace the money her dad took. To do that, she and Tristan pair up to recreate her ancestor's experiments. Tristan has his own demons and his own reasons to help Jill win the contest--the solution to the beast that lies within.

Told in alternating voices, the premise of the story is interesting. It's a love story, with chemistry and action thrown in for good measure. Jill and Tristan are full characters, but many of the adults don't seem fully fleshed out. They are mostly background noise as the story focuses on Jill and Tristan. An interesting twist on a love story, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman

Jacob's been in and out of the foster care system most of his life--until he stumbles into Mr. Fielding, who takes him in. They get along well together until a car accident kills Mr. Fielding.

But Jacob has a secret. Right before the crash, Mr. Fielding whispered "You are indestructible" to Jacob, which saved his life. Jacob's not sure, but he thinks he can't die. And when he accidentally writes the same phrase on Olivia's cast, he puts both their souls in danger.

The story seems a little odd, and it is. There is a lot of suspension of disbelief here, but the story itself is interesting and engrossing. Most of the book is spent trying to see the limits to this "power" of Jacob's, with Olivia getting more and more obsessed with it. When Jacob and his best friend realize they shouldn't have been playing with the idea, it's almost too late to save Olivia. Lots of action and suspense. You just have to ignore some of the most implausible ideas.

Secret Saturdays by Torrey MalDonado

Justin and his best friend Sean are tight. Justin's sure they know everything about each other, so when he catches Sean lying about his weekends, Justin doesn't know what to do. Now Sean is skipping class, avoiding homework, and hanging with some of the older guys in the neighborhood.

Justin decides he has to figure out what's going on, so he, Kyle, and Vanessa work up a plan. Meanwhile, Sean, who's never had to use his fists to fight, gets suspended for fighting. Now it's more important than ever they figure out what's going on.

A great and simple story. Told from Justin's point of view, but the story really focuses on Sean and their friendship. It's rare to find a well-written book about friendship between two guys living in the projects in New York and surviving without gangs.

Wereling by Steve Feasey

What would you do if you woke up one morning and everything you owned was ripped to pieces? That's the dilemma Trey wakes to one morning. Everything he owns is ripped apart and the window is almost pulled completely out of the wall.

Enter Trey's long lost "uncle", Lucien, who says he has all the answers. But answers Trey doesn't want to hear--not at first. Trey is the last known natural-born werewolf. As such, his life is in danger. Before he knows it, Trey is on an adventure of his lifetime, as Lucien's daughter is kidnapped and Trey must learn how to control the beast within, before it destroys everything he's ever known.

The first book in a new series, judging from the ending. There are a few inconsistencies throughout the story, but it doesn't detract from the overall plot. Lots of action, fighting, and background to make the book interesting, as long as you can ignore some of the holes. Hopefully they'll be explained in the next book.

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

To Jenna, environmentalism is everything. She spends her time organizing protests and writing senators. Her best friend, Olivia, or Livvy, is just as passionate.

After her parents throw a wrench into her summer plans, she heads off for Canada instead of Florida, to spend some time with her godmother.

Canada isn't quite what she expected. The town is tiny, the house her godmother lives in is being renovated, the stepdaughter is horrid, and Jenna's vegetarianism and conservation attitude doesn't fit with the locals. And just maybe, it doesn't really fit with Jenna.

The story is solid, a good chick-lit romance. A few inconsistencies that are distracting, but the story keeps you hooked. A light-hearted and fun read.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Grace was attacked by wolves when she was just 6 years old. Since then, she's always found wolves fascinating, especially the wolf that saved her all those years ago.

Sam knows Grace should have turned into a wolf when she was 6. He's watched her every winter as a wolf and tries to work up the courage to speak to her in the summer.

Then one of Grace's classmates, Jack, is attacked by wolves and supposedly dies. Sam ends up shot. And Grace soon learns the wolf she sees every winter knows more than he's willing to tell.

This story is told from Grace and Sam's points of view. How the wolves become human or wolf is all part of the story, and Grace and Sam's story is more tragic because of it. A great romance story with paranormal overtones. There's some action thrown in as well, but most of the story focuses on Grace, Sam, and their feelings for each other.

The sequel to this book is Linger.

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Kendra was sexually abused and is still recovering years later. She doesn't remember the face of her abuser, but slowly her memories are coming back. Kendra doesn't think she has the time it'll take for her memories to return--someone's following her. And threatening her to keep silent.

All Kendra has is her art. But her artwork is getting more expressive of the trauma she's going through, trauma that she cuts to forget. Her artwork also leads her to Meghan, a girl whom Kendra can relate to. Soon she finds herself wanting to talk about everything that's happened to her. And her abuser ups the stakes to keep her quiet.

A very intense book. Kendra's pain is real and visual. Her cutting is well-described so it can be hard to read. Not reading it would be the real tragedy. This is a book everyone should read to understand what the victims of sexual abuse go through, and how inadequate most of the help for them really is. Heartbreaking, realistic, and emotional.

A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker

Fiona can't wait for the beginning of her senior year--until the day arrives. The principal announces all seniors will participate in a class to prepare them for marriage--without which, they can't graduate.

It wouldn't have been so bad if Fiona hadn't been paired with jock and jerk Todd. And if his girlfriend, Fiona's archenemy, wasn't paired with Fiona's crush. Todd and Fiona can't stand each other and strive to embarrass the other as much as possible. Fiona's mother is on a crusade to get the marriage-preparedness class revoked from school curriculum. Fiona's best friend Marcie is keeping a big secret from her. And it appears that Marcie's "husband" may just have a crush on Fiona.

How long can one semester last?

Although predictable, there is a lot of humor in this chicklit romance. Many of the pranks Fiona and Todd play on each other are hillarious. Fiona is a humorous narrator, although a little selfish, naive, and self-absorbed. She doesn't notice many things going on around her until they're smacking her in the face. Despite that, it was entertaining and fun to read.

Morpheus Road: The Light by D.J. MacHale

Marshall's sure he's going crazy. At first he thought he was just seeing the Gravedigger--a figure he's been drawing all year--outside the window of his house. Then he thinks the Gravedigger is trying to kill him--first at school, then again at home. All Marshall knows is he has to stay put until his dad gets home. Then they can get him help.

But help isn't easy to find. While Marshall is being stalked by a fictional character, his best friend goes missing. And Marshall can't help but wonder if the two things are connected. He heads to where Cooper was last seen with Cooper's sister Sydney. He hopes they aren't too late. But Cooper's life isn't the only one left on the line, and Marshall isn't safe from anyone or anywhere.

A great start to a new series. There's a lot of suspense and terror, but not quite the horror story I was prepared for. The setting and characters are vivid and charismatic--I couldn't put the book down. The ending especially leaves you with expectations for the next in the series. Can't wait!

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Alan and Nick have been on the run most of their lives. First, they moved around with their parents as magicians hunted for them. The magicians are determined to get back something their mother stole from their leader Black Arthur.

Now that their father is dead, the brothers struggle to survive and hide with their mom in England. Alan, the nice one, can't say no to anyone, so when Mae and Jamie show up at their doorstep needing help, the whole family is sucked in. Before Nick knows it, Alan has the mark of a demon and it's a race to survive and save his soul.

Most of this story is told from Nick's perspective. He has a dark side that he struggles with constantly, and the story is well-written and told from his side. Alan and Nick are fully developed and complicated, and there are twists and turns throughout the story to keep anyone interested. There are a few things that are left unexplained--hopefully the sequel, The Demon's Covenant, explains those.