Monday, March 31, 2008

Hunted: Club Dread by Walter Sorrells

This book is actually the second book in the Hunted series, revolving around a young girl named Chass who is on the run with her mother. While I have not read the first book, this novel did a good job of informing a new reader of necessary background information.

In Club Dread, Chass ends up witnessing the murder of a Josh Emmit, a young musician, who hands her an ingot with the mysterious dying last words of "Stop. Hundred." Chass, knowing not to get involved with anything that might give away her location to the people she's running from, throws away the ingot and avoids the police until the show up at her door. Suddenly she's their number one suspect and needs to prove her innocence if she wants to avoid another relocation. At the same time, she's starting her own band, which allows her to make loyal friends who are more than willing to help her catch Josh Emmit's killer. Her hunt leads to a mysterious underground group called "The Hundred" that a dangerous game, where, in order to win, you need to frame someone else for a crime. Could one of the Hundred be responsible for Josh's murder? Why is she being framed for the murder? And can Chass solve this mystery without her true identity being revealed?

This novel had a good amount of suspense, especially as the plot thickens. Sorrells does a good job of throwing in new twists and clearing that up before revealing something new and letting that sink in. There are no real questions about the murder left hanging and the truth isn't something completely out of the ballpark. The surprises make sense. At times, though, the story gets a little out there. Take for example the teen heroine clinging to a speeding car by the windshield wipers as it zips through town only to end on in a car wash with Chass still on the outside of the car. That was just a little to Hollywood action film for me to swallow. Also, I understand that this is a series and is about mysteries, but I was a little jaded by all that Chass went through. What are honestly the odds of a girl who's on the run getting involved with a murder mystery, or, for that matter, having someone killed right in front of her? Yes, this is fiction, but this girl must have the worst luck in the world. Part of me wonders how many novels there can be in the series without it becoming too prescription. On the flip-side, though, the book was interesting and maybe some things just need to be overlooked in fiction. There was a good amount of suspense and you definitely feel for Chass' desperation to remain in San Francisco with the life she's recently built.

This was a good book. Aside from a few details the might push the realistic button, the suspense and plot held up. Even if you haven't read the first novel (Fake ID by Walter Sorrells) this is a novel you might consider if you like action suspense.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Giving Up the Ghost by Sinykin

This ghost story is for younger teens. Aunt Mari is dying and Davia and her parents have come to her Louisiana Sugar Plantation to be with her so she can stay at home. Really all that is left of the plantation are the huge closed up mansion, a six sided building and the carriage house where Aunt Mari now lives, a small overgrown cemetery and the ghost of Emilie who Aunt Mari hopes to put to rest before she dies. Davia's mother will inherit the treasures in the mansion. Aunt Mari challenges scaredy cat Davia to get to know Emilie and find out how to lay her to rest. While Davia and her equally scared cat (unfortunately) both warm up to feisty and demanding Aunt Mari quickly. Davia does not want to, won't, no one can make her, no way warm up to a ghost. She won't even warm up to a ghost who helps her with her asthma. Well, maybe....Find out how helping Emilie might just also help Davia overcome her fears, some of them at least and forgive herself. This is undemanding and not that scary but an ok read.
jdw 3/26/08

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Unspoken by Thomas Fahy

Five years ago a cult known as the Divine Path controlled the lives of six teens. In order to escape from its grip, the teens killed Jacob, the leader in a fire that also took their parents, who had been drugged by Jacob beforehand. Before all that happened, though, a prophecy had been spoken that in five year's time the six teens would be destroyed by their fears and the Chosen Ones would return. Now, five years later, one teen ends up mysteriously dead - drowned in a tobacco field. The other teens reunite for the funeral, wondering if the prophesy really was true or if it was just a weird accident. Haunted by the past and the realization that they are dying off one by one, the teens, particularly Allison, struggle to beat the power of the Divine Path and survive.

This novel was good up until the end. The ending leaves you hanging. Some of the remaining five beat death, but are left with the threat of the year not being over, therefore meaning they still have a certain number of days to die. There's also the fact that the killer may or may not actually be dead. To me the ending felt like a cop-out. Sure there's the cliff-hanger excitement but it really just felt as though the author couldn't come up with a convincing ending so he just left it. I could understand if there's a sequel in the works, but there's no To Be Continued, just a feeling as though everything will be okay. I might believe that if there were an Epilogue of five years later, but no. It wasn't convincing; the book ended too soon. The bad thing about it is that he could have very easily just left the killer for dead and have them live happily ever after, if that's what he was going for. He had to have the killer's fate and that of the victims all mysterious and threatening, but it feels like an empty threat because nothing else happens. I don't know the author's intentions, but ending it with a feeling that everything will be okay seems like the easy way out when he's left too many things hanging.

Another thing that bothered me about the book was that some aspects were hard to believe. When the truth about Jacob is revealed, everything that happened seem too magical to be real. I'm left wondering if this novel is supposed to be believable, like this could really happen, or if it is supposed to have an element of fantasy to it. At first I was under the impression that it could happen, but the more I think about it, the more I disagree. The events from "The Confessional" aren't completely believable, as are certain character's death, especially when no explanation is offered. Again, I feel as though this author created this world and ran out if ideas so he just gave up and ended it without typing up the loose ends.

This novel started off being interested and it drew me in. I really wondered about the fate of the characters and wanted to know the truth. The main problem is that too many things are left unresolved. Give the book an Epilogue and it probably would be a little more satisfying.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Leftovers - Laura Wiess

Blair, an only child, her mom is a powerfull lawyer, and her dad works and attends functions with her mother. She is ignored by her parents and has no supervision. Ardith on the other hand is the youngest of her family with a 17 year old brother and an older sister. Her brother has parties all the time and is a player with the girls that come to the house. Ardith has to sleep with padlocks on her door and a screwdriver under her pillow to protect her from her brothers friends. During the summer the pool opens up and there is a party, which Blair and Ardith attend. After its over they go into the woods and get drunk and make out with each other. The bad thing is Gary sees them and once 9th grade starts he spreads the rumor that they are gay. Blair comes up with a plan that gets back a Gary, but also has him dating Ardith for a while. At the same time Blair and Ardith barely see each other because of Blair's parents. Right before high school starts the following year Ardith's brother crashes into a cop car, seriously injuring the cop. Blair's mother defends him, and things begin to change around Ardith's house. No more parties, her mom and dad look presentable, and her brother begins to clean up his act or so it would seem. Blair and Ardith reconnect and come up with a plan to prove that Ardith's brother isn't as prim and proper as everyone thinks he is.

I liked the way the book portrayed the main characters in the way that they are mistreated by their friends and family, but find comfort and trust in each other. It is that trust that brings them back together, and get some revenge on the people who have hurt them the most.

T.B. 3/11/08

Monday, March 10, 2008

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie By: Minjam Pressler

This is a novel about Johanna, and how she travels to Israel for a class project, and finds out that her family's wealth is not so. Johanna's family, or her grandfather, bought the largest clothing store during the Nazi regime from a Jewish family.Johanna's grandfather purchased the clothing store legally, and made a lot of money on this purchase.

The story goes into a lot of incidents that happen. Johanna's grandfather commits suicide, and lots more.

Johanna is a spoiled teen by her Mother. Although Johanna goes to High School, she must work at the clothing store selling clothes to customers. Johanna is ashamed of being seen by the teens.

This novel is very true as to what might have happened in Germany, and sad at the same time. But it points out we must not live in the past, but press on to the future. I liked this novel very much, because it is historical in many ways. It also has a sensitive message in the title that Johanna knows. Read the book, and find out. LRD 3/10/08

Ticket to Ride By: Paula McLaim

This is a novel written about the 1970's. It has to do with an older brother called Raymond , and his sister Fawn. Towards the end of the novel Fawn is missing. No one knows if she is dead, or where she is. Throughout the novel, we explore the families love, and loyalty. The author has a way making nature come alive by her method of writ ting .

The title of this book caught my eye, because it had been popular song that the Beatle's sang in the middle 1960's.

This book kept me wondering all the time till the end of the book. What would occur at the ending of this novel. I personally, did not like the book. It was a slow moving story.

LRD 3/10/08

Thursday, March 06, 2008

East by Pattou

A retelling of the folk tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" Rose was born under the sign of the wanderer. Rose was a bit different from her lithe, pretty, fair, sisters, sturdy and dark and having a love of the outdoors. The family of seven siblings and parents falls on hard times and it looks as if a most beloved sister will die. A bargain with a white bear insures that Sara will survive and the family will flourish. But, Rose must go with the bear to live in a winter castle from which she cannot leave. There are pacts with Troll Queens that cannot be revealed. White bear speaks little and reveals nothing. Besides herself and white bear there are two servants that do not speak her language. She spends her nearly endless days in the castle weaving on a great loom, trying to learn the flauto musical instrument to please white bear, telling him stories and learning the routine and language of the servants. At night all lights must be out then she is joined in bed by a person or animal she cannot see and that does not make any sound beyond sighs. After many months she is allowed a visit home with her family though she has been given many precautions and has agreed to return to the white bear she has begun to care about. While visiting she is given a candle that will remain lit even when none other light will. It was specially prepared by the local witch lady. Rose returns to white bear and the castle more curious than ever to see the person who joins her each night. Finally Rose lights her candle, all is revealed to her and she loses white bear to the troll queen who takes him in a sleigh heading north. Because Rose feels guilty for losing white bear by her actions and because she has grown to care for him she is determined to follow and rescue him from the troll queen. Its a hard journey every north, past the ice bridge with the help of a drunken sailor and a Inuit shaman and finally one of the servants from the winter castle who is at the ice palace of the troll queen and still more planning while enslaved by the trolls. Fans of Beauty and the Beast stories will enjoy this lovely story.
JDW 3/6/08

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

This is winner of the Prinz Award for Young Adult Literature. People seem to either hate it or love it. It is complex and needs a thoughtful reader. It reminds me of a long ago Newbery Winner - Ellen Raskin's Westing Game. It is part historical fiction in which we learn about various missions to Antarctica to find the south pole. Some failed and some succeeded. It is part geography book in which the narrator tells us about various forms of ice - fish hook sharp and anthill hollow at the Devil's Ballroom and weather -whiteouts and blizzards in Antarctica. This is part adventure story, a search for the opening into the hollow earth where live albino people in a world within our world as John Cleves Symmes conceived it in the 1800's and some still believe. This is part survival story when the search fails, fuel and supplies are lost. This is mostly a mystery as it unfolds horrifically before our teen narrator Symone and shared with the reader through her thoughts, conversations with pretend friend Lawrence (Titus) Oates and with her mad uncle Victor. In many mysteries the reader has some insider knowledge that we do not have here just as Sym does not have any insider knowledge. Sym has a passion for all things Antarctica passed on to her by her father before he died. She is named for John Cleves Symmes of the Hollow Earth Theory that intrigued and obsessed both her father and his friend Victor. She has made a pretend friend of Titus Oates who was part of the failed 1910 Antarctic expedition of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. Victor concocts a scheme in which he and Sym go to the Antarctic as part of a tourist expedition. Once there, the other tourists mysteriously all fall ill save Sym, Victor, Norwegians Manfred Bruch and his young companion Sigurd. This frees these four to outfit a Hagglund for a cross ice trip using a gps to coordinates where the portal to hollow earth is believed to exist. A Hagglund is a vehicle designed to travel for long periods across ice, crevasses, up/down icebergs. This is where the real adventure begins with disagreements among the participants and slow revelations as to the true mad, obsessive, scary nature of Victor and the journey. It continues with mishap after mishap and a determination beyond reason to reach the portal. In the end it is Sym's pretend friend that saves her from death in the antarctic like Titus himself experienced. Sym is a strong, invincible teen female. Other books with gutsy girls include East by Pattou, Bloody Jack by Meyer, L.A., True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, Airborn by Oppel, Maximum Ride by Patterson and Pullman's series His Dark Materials. JDW 3/5/08

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Darkside by Tom Becker

This book is the first in a new series. For a beginning book it's not bad, but I don't know how it will do as a series. It's a pretty decent stand alone novel and I don't know how much more a can be done to make it a series.

Darkside is a secret world outside of London run by creatures of the night. Jonathan Starling stumbles upon it after his dad goes into a coma (succumbed by the darkness) and a group of people try to kidnap him. He's told he'll be safer in Darkside under the watch of Carnegie. With that said and his kidnappers closing in on him, he slips into this new world. It looks like London in the 1800s where everyone on the street is a evil. In fact, Jack the Ripper's family runs the town. Carnegie, a private detective, is an old friend of Jonathan's father, as well as a wereman (as opposed to a werewolf). As the story progresses, Jonathan discovers that he and another boy, Ricky Thomas are half Darksider. More than one person wants Jonathan found and it's takes all of his strength and courage to survive this strange world.

This novel turned out to be pretty exciting. The chapters aren't too long which makes reading quick and there is also a steady flow of highs and lows. I might even venture to say that there were one or two moments of nail biting suspense. That said, though, I don't feel the urge to tell everyone to read the book and I'm not on the edge of my seat waiting for the next book. It might have to do with the fact that I'm not a vampire/werewolf junkie or the fact that while this was a good book, I don't feel it was great. I can't put my finger on it, but I wasn't sent over the moon with this book. Maybe I'm a bit turned off by the fact that this is a series. I personally don't feel that there's enough expand upon, but like I said, this isn't my normal type of book. I can see where it might lead into a series with people finding out about Darkside and just all the sick and twisted people there, but, as I said before, that's not my thing.

This book was good, don't get me wrong. If you're into supernatural and vampires and creatures of the night, give the book a shot. Maybe you'll be excited about this becoming a series. As for me, I think I'll pass on book two, unless it has an interesting plot.