Saturday, October 01, 2016

Flying - Carrie Jones

Mana wakes up from a dream and hears her mom yelling on the phone.  Mana's mom tells her not to worry, it was a telemarketer.  The next day Mana and her mom go to Lyle's track meet.  Lyle is one of her BFF's, and everyone thinks they are together including Lyle's mother.  Lyle does well at the track meet and she thinks about him for the rest of the day.  A few days later her mom has to go into work early, and she will see her at the basketball game.  Seppie, Mana's other BFF, picks her and Lyle up and they head to school.  Seppie and Lyle argue while Mana tries to wake up.  She daydreams about Lyle as being more than just one of her best friends.  By cheerleading practice in the afternoon Mana is still dragging.  She gets through practice and is woken up enough for the game.  At the game she notices a guy in sunglasses who keeps starting at Dakota.  At one point sunglasses guy grabs Dakota and takes him to the locker room area.  Mana and Lyle find Dakota tied up.  Lyle goes and calls the police while Mana lets him go.  China, the guy with the sunglasses, tries to protect her as Dakota's tongue spits green acid at them.  Lyle comes barging in with one of the sheriff's deputies seconds after China and Dakota have disappeared.  After the deputy goes off looking for Dakota and China, Mana explains to Lyle what went on.  He doesn't believe her, and thinks she has a concussion.  They finish cheering the game and Seppie drops them off at Mana's house.  As Mana puts her key into the door it swings open, which concerns Mana as her mom always keeps the door locked.  They go in to find the house destroyed and alien Dakota flying around.  Dakota escapes and Mana wonders if her mom was here when he destroyed the house when Lyle sees her car in the garage.  They search the house for her mom and find a creature with webbed feet in her mom's bedroom.  It attacks them and they kill it with a car.  Lyle says it reminds him of a Wendigo, but all Mana cares about is finding her mom.  They search the house and wait for the police.  They don't find her in the house and then see headlights coming toward the house.  They think it's the police, but men in black suits come out of black vans.  China tells them it isn't the police, and the creature was a Wendigo.  More sirens approach and he tells them they have to leave the scene now.  She and Lyle head to his house.  His mom has a strict no-girl in the house policy, so Mana has to be snuck in.  The police show up and Lyle goes to talk to them.  His parents are upset as is Mana.  She spends the night there and wakes up to Lyle's mom thinking they slept together.  Mana heads back home to get a change of clothes and sees a text from her mom telling her not to come home.  Things will be explained later.  China shows up there to and explains Mana's mother is his partner and they hunt aliens together.  After she gets cleaned up, Mana leaves with China and he tells her about aliens monitoring Earth.  Some are good and some are not.  There is a secret branch of the government that hunts down the bad ones and he and Mana's mother are a part of it.  As China continues to explain everything Lyle pops up in the back of the truck with a gun.  He though she was being kidnapped and was trying to rescue her.  Mana explains that isn't the case and they were heading to try and find her mom.  After everyone has calmed down and guns put down the three of them head to Maine to an underground lair.  Will they be able to find Mana's mother and why was alien Dakota ransacking Mana's house?

 I liked this book, but the first 30 pages seemed slow to me for some reason.  After Dakota is reveled to be alien, and he escapes the story picked up for me.  The story had a Men in Black feel to it with the underground lairs, and working together with some of the alien species.  Mana reminded me of a mix between Buffy and Katniss.  I loved the references to Doctor Who and Star Trek in the book as well.  It looks like it there will be a sequel as the ending leaves the story open to be continued. 


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Devil and the Bluebird - Jennifer Mason-Black

Bluebird's sister, Cass, left two years ago.  Blue summons a crossroads demon at midnight with a guitar.  The demon gives her six months to find her sister or both their souls are the demons.  As a down payment for their agreement the demon takes her voice.  The next day Blue packs clothes and brings her mom's silver ring, her mom's guitar, a notebook, pens, and pencils.  She leaves a note for Lynne telling her she's gone looking for Cass and not to worry.  Blue starts her journey by hitching a ride with a woman driving a truck full of fish.  The women tells her the best way to save her money is to stay at shelters, and not at motels.  The next day she gets a ride from Jed who is heading to Albany for a gig with his band.  They find a place to eat in Albany and the demon appears telling her she can only stay three days with someone who knows her name.  Three weeks if she keeps herself hidden.  Any longer than that and Blue will invite suffering onto whoever she is staying with.  She crashes at Jet's girlfriend's aunt's house.  She accompanies them to hear Mr. Chicken play and they get offered a recording deal.  Bet, Jet's girlfriend, is the only one that isn't happy about the deal.  Back at the house Blue sees a girl sitting on an old freezer, which turns out to be the demon.  The demon tells Blue she only has two days with people, not three.  Blue packs up her things and leaves before midnight.  She boards a bus to Rochester.  After she gets there she meets an old woman who offers her a place to stay and something to eat.  She goes with Amy and when they get there she introduces her son Marcos.  Her husband and younger son Yoshi aren't home.  Just as Blue gets comfortable Amy comes and accuses her of giving Marcos weed, and tells her to leave.  She gets a ride to a town outside of Rochester and goes to buy food.  She pays for it from money she was going to use for a bus ticket.  When she looks in her wallet to get money she discovers the rest of her money is gone.  It dawns on her that Marcos took it while she was in the bathroom.  She sits in a park figuring out what to do next.  An old women sits next to her, who turns out to be the demon in disguise.  She tells Blue not to blame her for the money getting stolen.  Blue has to focus on their deal.  She tells Blue to keep the guitar close because it carries more answers than she can imagine.  She plays and people give a few dollars here and there to listen to Blue.  She's made up some of the money that was taken.  She heads to the library to figure things out.  Blue asks the librarian call a local motel for rates and directions.  The librarian then offers Blue a room to stay for the night.  She stays for the night and leaves when the librarian goes to work the next morning.  Blue plays for the librarian and in return she gives Blue a frame backpack to help Blue carry her things.  She heads back to the park to play for money, and encounters a boy who shows her where to get gloves so her hands won't freeze.  His name is Steve and doesn't want to talk about his family.  They grab lunch and end up back in the park.  He tells her somethings about him, and she tells him she's looking for her sister.  He suggests they travel together, and Blue tells him about the deal with the crossroads demon.  He doesn't think she's crazy, and they hitch a ride to Chicago with a couple.  Steve quotes Bible verses to make them seem like good Christian folk. They end up at Cynthia's sister Ruth's house.  Ruth reluctantly agrees to let them stay in the guest room.  After their things are taken to the guest room Fred tells Blue he knows who she is and where she's supposed to be.  Ruth and Cynthia want Blue to play for their church group in exchange for staying a day.  Blue reluctantly agrees and tells Steve she needs to leave by midnight or the demon will hurt Fred, Cynthia, and Ruth.  She plays for the church group, and after gets a visit from the demon.  The demon reminds her about the two days since Fred knows her name.  She leaves a few minutes before midnight with Steve chasing after her.  They make their way through Chicago hoping someone will pick them up.  A bus picks them up and they end up in a bus graveyard questioning whether the bus ride was real or not.  They find a dinner to have breakfast at.  When Blue shows Steve the song she played for the church group he gets mad and leaves.  She reaches Union Station where a guy is being really nice to her.  He leaves when another girl comes up and chases him away.  She leaves the station and heads to a park like the one she met Steve in.  She sees Steve who is angry at Blue.  He explains why he got mad at the song she played.  She apologizes to him and they start heading to find a place to stay.  The next thing they know the girl from the station named Florida and a guy named Rat kidnap them.  Is Blue's journey destined to end in Chicago, or can she and Steve escape so Blue can find her sister?

 When I read the summary for this book it sounded like an episode of Supernatural come to life in book form.  It's a story of a girl who made a deal with a crossroads demon to hopefully find her sister.  I could see Sam or Dean doing this in an episode of Supernatural.  Throughout the whole story I felt drawn into the book, and could put myself where Blue was going on her journey.  I thought it was a really good story and I enjoyed reading the book.


Friday, July 01, 2016

All the light we cannot see by Doerr. Prisoner of night and fog by Blankman and These shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Doerr's book takes place in Hitler occupied France during the years 1941 to 1944.  It deals with the resistance movement with the use of radio transmissions, the attempts to preserve valuables in Museums, to keep them out of enemy hands and a blind girl who was part of it all.  The writing is beautiful, tight, absorbing.  It may be a little slow moving for folks who don't read a lot but many who have read it say how fast they got caught up in it and how much they enjoyed the read.  I did too.

Donnelly's story is a different time period, earlier in history.  Shipping is big business, things go wrong often.  Women know their place and it is not in the workplace.  There is much poverty and all the low life and prostitution and stuff that goes with it. A teenage girl's father dies, said by the wealthy folks to be accidental.  But, she overhears a conversation in which it is said that he was murdered.  Now Jo is on a mission to solve her father's murder.  But it being unbecoming for a woman of her class to do so and she doesn't know her way around the seedy areas she must go to, she needs help.  That comes in the form of a newsie named Eddie.  The pair fall in love though this is a forbidden love.  They search for answers to Jo's father's murder.  They suspect that a few other recent accidental deaths or suicides were also murders by the same person.  It takes a lot of heart ache and danger and searching to unravel the mystery.  

Blankman's story takes place in Munich during the same time period as Doerr's.  As a vehicle for showing teen readers the inner workings of the Hitler party and its rise to power it works fairly well.  It is interesting to read about the bevy of young girl "pets" he liked to keep around him and pamper, the heroine of this story is one. And about his hit squads, how he decided who was aryan enough to serve in his military and Hitler's psychological profile. The phrase "night and fog" is more a part of the French occupation than that which occurred in Munich.  That was just one of the bothersome things in this story.  There is once again a teenage girl who overhears folks saying that her father was murdered.  The story was that he was killed stopping bullets from hitting Hitler when the military of the ruling party fired on Hitler and his marchers during a demonstration and therefore died a hero.   Gretchen sets out to discover every facet of her father's death from who all the conspirators were to who did the shooting to why and more.  There is a picture.  A Jewish Journalist she crosses paths with gives it to her and they form a bond though not like the strong love between Jo and Eddie in Donnelly's story.  The pair work together to get that information which Gretchen wants.  Its just that every person she wants to talk with dies or in the case of Hitler warns her off.  One can assume a cover up and that her nosing around is causing the murders of all those people.  Also, Gretchen has a very creepy brother  and even after a couple of dangerous encounters she keeps throwing herself in his path which does risk her life.  She risks the journalist's life as well.  Its true there is a nail biting finale which i am told folks really like but in Donnelly's story Jo was willing to stop her search for detail when other lives appeared at risk.  Jo was to me a much more sympathetic character than Gretchen with her nothing will stop me attitude.  Remember I said she had been shown a picture of the incident in which her father was shot.  Even though she never admitted it, Gretchen had to have know who shot her father in the back, who murdered him just from the photo.  
jdw 7/1/16

Monday, June 06, 2016

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

Finley is sad.  Its not just that her parents might be divorcing.  Its not just being sent to spend summer with grandparents she doesn't know.  She escapes into a world part real part fantasy she calls Everwood, especially  on her blue days when life feels overwhelming.  A burned out house, forbidden neighbor boys, cousins she didn't know she had all become a part of her Everwood.  Secrets of what caused her father to become estranged from his family emerge. Near tragedy and the seeming end of Everwood eventually cause Finley to face her sadness and seek help.  Finley did have some kind of happiness when telling stories/living in Everwood.  In the end readers will be hopeful that the happiness she found in Everwood will extend into her every day life and become brighter.  This is a decent middle school novel, I recommend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

Hank has a crush on Amanda but is afraid to ask her to prom directly.  So he devises a spectacular plan that goes spectacularly awry.  In the aftermath of just one more thing gone wrong, he meets Peyton.  Despite her problems and his crush on Amanda they find themselves interested in each other.  A tentative friendship forms, splits and forms again as the pair ride the rocky road of their not so normal lives.  This is a fun, lightweight read.  Maybe good for the beach?  
jdw 5/18/16

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Can You Keep A Secret? - R. L. Stine

Emmy keeps having nightmares that she is a wolf, but this time her bed sheets are shredded to pieces.  The next morning she tells her mom and she says the dreams stem from when she was bitten by a dog at the age of five.  On the news they hear about a wolf attack in Shadyside Park behind the high school.   To distract them from the news her mom asks Emmy what she and her sister Sophie are doing today.  Sophie is going to the library to work on a school project, while Emmy is going to visit Eddie at his new job at a pet cemetery.  When she gets there Emmy notices a strange smell and sees him digging a grave for the dog that was killed last night.  The dog tumbles out of the bag when he gets ready to put it in the grave.  This makes Emmy very sick and she remembers her dream about being a wolf from the night before.  She and Eddie leave the pet cemetery after he tries to get an advance on his paycheck from his boss Mac.  Mac only gives him ten dollars.  After dinner Emmy is packing an overnight bag when Sophie tries figure out where Emmy is really going.  Sophie gets mad Emmy won't spend time with her and only wants to be with her boyfriend and friends.   She and Eddie head to Fear Street Woods for an overnight camp out with their friends Danny, Callie, Riley, and Roxie.  They joke about the wolf attack and wonder if it is a good idea to be camping out in the open.  Eddie tells them they will be safe and pulls out a gun from his jacket.  As the guys are gathering firewood, Emmy sees the wolf in shrubs.  Eddie shots at it and it turns out to be a raccoon.  Eddie and Emmy walk away from the group and go by a tree which he calls their secret place.  He pulls out a knife to carve their names in the trunk.  The trunk is hollow and Eddie finds a briefcase full of money.  They head back to the rest of the group and tell them what they found.  Danny wants his share and Eddie tries to stop him from taking the money.  They wrestle for control of the gun and it goes off.  No one gets hurt and everyone decides to put the money somewhere safe.  They head to the pet cemetery Eddie works at to bury the briefcase.  They all watch Eddie bury the briefcase.  Danny doesn't trust Eddie to watch over the money since his family really needs money.  Sophie calls Emmy saying she thinks she saw the wolf a few blocks away from the playground watching her with incredible blue eyes.  Eddie takes Emmy home and she finds Sophie in their bedroom.  Emmy tells her she was with Eddie and a few others camping out in the Fear Street Woods.  Sophie wants Emmy to spend more time with her and wants her to come to her track meet on Monday.  Emmy can't because she's got to pick up Eddie.  They both go to bed and Emmy has another wolf dream.  On Monday after Emmy picks up Eddie they head to his house to have dinner with his mom and step-father.  Eddie's step-father tells them about an armored car robbery that happened a few days ago.  Eddie and Emmy realize that the money they found was the money from the robbery.  Eddie's step-father shows them surveillance video of the robbery.  After they leave Emmy realizes the robber will be after them for the money because Eddie carved their names into the tree.  They decide to dig the briefcase up from the grave and put it back into the tree.  When they get to the pet cemetery and dig up the grave Eddie discovers the briefcase is gone.  Eddie believes Danny took it, and they head over to his house.  As they are talking to him Riley comes out of the bushes behind Danny's house.  He says he went to check the money because he didn't trust Eddie.  When Riley got there the money was gone.  Riley punches Eddie in the jaw and leaves.  Emmy and Eddie try and figure out who took the money.  Eddie says the security cameras at the pet cemetery might have caught something.  They agree to try and look at them after school the next day.  Emmy comes home to Sophie waiting for her.  Emmy tells her everything from finding the briefcase to burying it in the pet cemetery.  After they fall asleep Emmy has another dream about being a wolf.  After her job as a nanny Emmy sees someone watching and following her.  When she meets up with Eddie she tells him she thinks the robber is following her.  As they look at the security footage it shows Riley digging up the grave and taking the money.  The next day Riley is out sick and Emmy goes to Sophie's track meet.  After they get home their mom tells them Great Aunt Marta from Prague is coming to visit.  Marta wants to see the girls one more time.  After dinner Eddie calls Emmy saying he and Danny are going to confront Riley.  Emmy tells them to wait for her.  Sophie drives Emmy over since Emmy is to frightened to drive.  They get to Riley's house thinking they got there before Danny and Eddie.  Instead they find Riley face down in the hedges with his clothes and skin ripped away along with his face a pulpy mess. 

Like all of the other Fear Street books I enjoyed this one too.  I feel like there is not as many werewolf books out there as there are zombie and vampire.  I liked how Stine brought in how greedy people can be when money is involved.  Some people can resist the temptation, but most of us would likely not return money if we found it.  Greed can make us do things we normally wouldn't do, and if we are caught then we have to face the consequences of our actions. 


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer

The sequel of "House of the Scorpion." Starting off at the same time as the first end. Matt has inherited the whole country of Opium between United States and Aztlan (Mexico.) From the opium and the guilt he now carries but with his new found power he wants to free all the eejits (slaves/workers) and rip down the whole drug trade. But every turn there is always danger facing him.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Crisis Zero Book 3 in the Codename Conspiracy - Chris Rylander

Just as Principal Gomez is going to expel Carson, the National Security Bureau barges in and arrests him.   By lunchtime there are rumors abound about what he did.  During lunch Carson and Danielle get a message to go to the maintenance shed immediately.  They are met by Agent Smiley, and she tells them Director Isadoris wants them to steal Principal Gomez's computer hard drive.  During fifth period they talk about how to distract the NSB agents so they can get the hard drive.  Danielle contacts her cousin Brad who brings fainting goats to the school.  As the goats fill the hallway students, teachers, and the NSB agents go to see what the commotion is.  Carson slips into Gomez's office, and gets the hard drive.  He comes in the east entrance acting like nothing out of the ordinary is happening.  He puts the hard drive in his locker.  During seventh period it is announced that everyone will be searched when leaving the school.  The NSB is looking for items related to Principal Gomez's case.  Carson runs from his classroom and tries to get to his locker.  He runs into Agent Chum Bucket, who gives him a message, right before he is arrested by the NSB for having the hard drive.  Carson cleans up after peeing his pants as an excuse on why he ran out of class.  He also tries to decipher what Agent Chum Bucket's message about the school's secret sauce means.  Carson heads to the cafeteria and goes into the pantry area looking for the vats of special sauce.  He finds them along with the actual hard drive from Gomez's computer in a plastic bag. Carson takes the hard drive to Agency Headquarters.  Director Isadoris tells Carson that there is someone reporting to Medlock, and he wants Carson and Danielle to find out who this person is.  They should suspect everyone, even friends.  The director also wants him and Danielle to find evidence inside the school about why Gomez was framed, and if there is any connection to their new principal Ms. Pullman.  Before he leaves Carson asks to see Agents Blue and Nineteen.  Agent Nineteen is in a stasis tank, and Agent Blue is waiting for a new prosthetic leg.  Carson updates Danielle on what Director Isadoris told him.  They make a list of possible suspects both students and teachers.  There are six people on the list and each of them takes three.  During school the next day two of Carson's suspects are maybes, while two on Danielle's list are crossed off.  Since Carson and Danielle have been on assignment, he hasn't hung out with Dillon that much.  He agrees to help Dillon pick mushroom samples early in the morning to test out a new theory.  As he is agreeing to this one of his suspects, Gus, comes across the cafeteria and punches Carson in the face.  This lands them both a trip to see the new principal, Ms. Jayne Pullman.  Gus comes out with tears down his face.  She asks Carson to tell her what happened and he does.  She doesn't give him detention, and closes the matter.  She also gives him a clean slate, something Mr. Gomez never did.  After school Carson breaks into a closet of one of the teachers that was on their list, Carson sees a hooded figure run from Agent Nineteen's music room.  The room is trashed and Carson comes face to face with the new principal.  He tells her he broke into the closet on a dare, and then saw a person running from the music room.  She gives him one weeks detention.  The next day he tries to see if Junior, his last suspect, can be crossed off the list.  Carson sees a black hoodie in Junior's locker, just like the person who trashed the music room.  A lot of people have black hoodies, but this is too much of a coincidence.  While in detention he and a few other students see construction trucks enter into one of the parking lots.  The construction is supposed to put solar powered snow melting panels under the parking lots.  That night Carson gets a note in his dinner to meet behind his garage.  He and Danielle update Agent Smiley on everything that's gone on.  She tells them to get closer to the construction zone to find out what is going on.  The next morning Carson goes to school early to see what he can find out.  He falls into a hole and gets his foot caught.  Just when he thinks he's going to be crushed by construction equipment, Carson is able to get out of his shoe and escape.  He runs into the last person he wants to see, Ms. Pullman.  After getting a pair of used socks from the nurse Carson leaves the nurses office.  There are still a few minutes before school opens when he sees a kid in a black hoodie.  Carson sneaks up on him in the music room and the kid turns out to be Junior.  Carson chases after him through the gym, the locker room, and the school stage.  Junior doesn't want to tell Carson who paid him to mess up the music room.  He gets away after punching Carson in the ribs.  Can Carson and Danielle figure out who paid Junior?  Is the construction connected with Principal Gomez's arrest, or is there some connection to the new principal?

I really enjoyed this series.  It was funny, but also makes you think about who or what could be hiding in our schools.  The chance of a government base under a school is remote, but you never know.  It also shows even if you are best friends with someone, no matter how much you know about each other, there will always be a few things you don't know about them or vice versa.  Carson has to keep secret that he's a government agent, but eventually other people find out.  Secrets always have a way of getting out whether you want them to or not.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Jessie has to move with her father from a middle class Chicago neighborhood to a very wealthy, elite neighborhood near Hollywood when her father decides to marry a wealthy woman there.  She finds herself in an elite, very competitive school as well.  She and her father recently lost her mother to cancer.  The woman and her son recently lost their father/husband.  There are other losses in this book as well, a brother, a sister.  Everyone with a loss is struggling in his/her own way with grief, some more successfully than others.  

Jessie is feeling especially misfit in new school, new designer home, no friends when she receives an anonymous message telling her how to start navigating the new school.  The somebody who is nobody and Jessie begin to regularly communicate and Jessie begins to have friends again.  The course of friendship isn't always smooth but its getting there.  The mystery identity of SN keeps one reading and guessing  and hoping along with Jessie.  The pair play a game - tell me three things to get to know each other and to help Jessie guess who the mystery person is.  All in all this is a decent romantic story worth your time.  Thats from someone who generally doesn't care for such stories.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdom takes you into a world where the tale of a princess, a rebel, a sorceress, and an heir to a throne is told across a plane of 3 different kingdoms. The book perfectly tells the story from each of the characters' point of view despite them rarely ever encountering one another. Each having their own layers of complexity, developments, influences, and values. Because of that their actions must be viewed from different perspectives. It is captivating and personally always had me on the edge of my seat wondering what is to come. It is story filled with a fantasy/magical take on medieval hierarchy, and where people fight for their survival, and the rulers of each kingdom for power.  It centers on characters who are part of different sides yet ultimately may come together, or drift farther apart in shocking ways, but if this satisfies your taste then this book, this series is one to try.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Shallow Graves by Kaci Wallace

Its about a girl name Breezy, that wakes up in a shallow grave without no memory about what happened within that year she has been missing or why she is in the grave. All she does know is that she is dead, well... undead, with a dead man at her feet, and a few memories of what happened before she woke up which was the last party she went to before she disappeared and of the slap she gotten that caused her to leave the party.

During the book you are on edge because you discover that the world is a lot more scary and darker than ever. You follow Breezy as she tries to discover what she is now, her powers she know has, who killed her, and her trying to stay alive over the different challenges that she now faces. Breezy meets a few people who are also creatures or some would say monsters but she learns that just because you aren't human doesn't make you a monster.

Personally, I really enjoyed the book. It gives you monsters, drama, action, and horror. I honestly thought I possibly might not like it but I was happily wrong. Definitely for the fans of horror, supernatural creatures, and suspense.  


April 11th 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Fighting Chance by Claudia Melendez Salinas

This has similarities to several other books I've read in the past.  One is Walter Dean Myers' book Scorpions.

A boxing club has been using free a formerly unused storage shed for boxing  training and practice bouts.

Now the town park district has decided that they need to take it over for paid programming. Coach and several boxers try to fight the take over. That is just one of the things going on and this one is left unresolved.

Miguel Angel is one of the neighborhood kids using the facility to stay away from drugs and gang violence.  His best friend has joined a gang and tries to pull him in.  Among other things Miguel hides a gun for Beto and is found at the site of a murdered man and arrested.  

Miguel tries to resist joining Beto's gang which gets him targeted by Beto's leader.  Beto is to kill Miguel but finds he cannot.  This gets Beto killed by the leader.

Now Miguel, in addition to having been arrested, possibly losing his refuge from gangs and guns has
lost his best friend and he begins to question his life as is, to consider revenge for Beto's murder and really struggle.  

This book does not have a neat ending.  We are not sure that Miguel will really resist joining a gang to get revenge for Beto but there is hope.  This part is a bit different from other books where the kid involved generally predictably winds up in jail or juvie.  I did like that about this book.  But in addition to the possible loss of the packing shed by the arrest was never completely resolved.  That is did Miguel get cleared or did coach just bail him out?

There is also a thread about kids from the wrong side of town dating and relating to wealthy kids and the kinds of issues involved, gives authenticity to the story.  This is an ok story.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The house of the scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The House of the Scorpion takes place in the future in a country called Opium which borders between the United States and Aztlan(Mexico.) The novel begins with a young boy named Matt who happens to be a clone of El Patron or the original Matteo Alacran. Matt must survive the whats coming after him because every direction he faces there is always someone trying to physically or emotionally harm him. 

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Countdown Zero - Chris Rylander

After helping the Agency take down the evil organization called The Pancake Haus a few months ago, Carson has gone back to his normal life.  This includes pulling pranks at school with his friends.  They decide to pull Prankpocalypse, which is to execute as many pranks as possible.  A few of the pranks are building a wall of snow behind every entrance of the school, rearrange the sauce and condiment bottles in the cafeteria, hide the tables and chairs from the cafeteria in one of the school bathrooms, and hide expired eggs all over the school.  Carson is stuck in Principal Gomez's office as he arrives around 3 am.  Carson uses a rock to break a window and run from the school.  Everyone else helping Carson gets out without being seen.  A week later Carson gets a note in his lunch telling him Agent Nineteen has seventy-two hours to live.  Meet on the school track in six minutes.  He makes an excuse to his friends about having to go to the bathroom to meet Agent Blue on the track.  He takes Carson to Agency HQ, which happens to be underground underneath the school.  There's a lot more security than there used to be since there is a rogue agent on the loose.  Agent Blue says to seriously think about coming back to work for the Agency.  This time around he could be seriously hurt, or even die.  He agrees and they go to see the Director.  Director Isadoris tells Carson that Agent Nineteen checked in at a base which does research and produces insidious biochemical agents.  There was an automated communication which said the virus, code name Romero, had been released.  Shortly after they lost contact with the base.  The base in question is inside Mount Rushmore, which is where some of Carson's classmates are going for a field trip over the weekend.  Agent Blue has talked to Principal Gomez and Carson can go on three conditions: 1. he helps clean up Principal Gomez's office, 2. if Carson gets one more disciplinary incident between now and eight grade graduation he will be expelled, and 3. he must give up the names of his accomplices from the Prankpocalypse.  After school at Dillon and Danielle's house he tells them Gomez wants him to give up everyone that helped out the week before.  The trouble is most of them are going on the trip and turning them in would exclude them from going.  Jake, who Dillon invited over, says he'll take the blame so everyone else can go on the trip.  His mom is on the school board, so it won't be hard for him to take the blame.  The next day Carson gives Principal Gomez Jake's name, and he gives Carson permission to go on the Mount Rushmore field trip.  Carson's mom is excited he's able to go on the trip and Dillon and Danielle are surprised but happy he is going when they see him on the bus on Saturday morning.  After they get to the campgrounds everyone has trouble putting up their tents, which makes for some funny incidents.  Later that night Carson tries to sneak out to meet with Agent Blue, but Jake has to go to the bathroom.  Carson slips away from Jake to meet Agent Blue.  He gives Carson everything he'll need to get into the base including the antidote to the virus.  Jake finds Carson behind the bus.  Carson lies saying he needs to use special toilet paper when Jake sees the backpack next to Carson.  The next day after the group arrives Carson stays near the back so when Agent Blue creates a diversion he can slip away quietly.  It takes a few seconds more for Carson to realize the diversion has been done when Agent Blue drops his camera.  As Carson climbs to where the secret entrance is he gets to one last cliff and his body gives out.  Jake who had followed Carson saves his life.  Carson tells Jake that he's a spy and he has to retrieve the virus before it's unleashed on the world.  Jake helps him get through the stages to enter the facility.  After they get to the lab where Agent Nineteen is they see him laying on the ground unconscious and one of the doctors barely conscious.  Carson gives the antidote to the doctor through a drop slot.  Once the doctor and Agent Nineteen are injected with the antidote Carson opens the lab.  Phil walks out while Jake comes back with the virus.  Carson is then locked in the lab with Agent Nineteen watching Phil and Jake leave with the virus.  Will Carson be able to escape and help stop the virus from being released, or will he and Agent Nineteen perish in the lab with no one able to rescue them? 

I enjoyed this book.  It was a fun and entertaining read.  I really liked that there was a secret base hidden inside Mount Rushmore.  It makes you think where else has the government put secret bases only they know about.  I'm glad there is a third book because this one ended on an interesting note and I would like to see how the story continues.  The third book just came out in February of 2016.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Symptoms of being Human by Jeff Garvin

The fact that this novel explores gender identity differences in teens should not stop folks from reading.  Of course it is especially good for  GLBTQ kids searching for their place to fit in.  It is filled with universal truths that any kid who has had the experience of not fitting in, of being different in any way.  As this story starts Riley has already attempted suicide and failed.  Riley begins an on-line blog at the encouragement of a supportive counselor.  It rapidly gains a following including one gender identity different teen who is beaten by parents for coming out.  Riley also has an on-line stalker who goes to the same school but who cannot be identified.  All this going on results in anxiety attacks and depression and near giving up for Riley.  It is made worse by the fact that Riley has not come out to the parents, one of whom is a prominent political figure.  When the stalker leaks facts of the blog and of Riley's gender difference to the press, everything comes to a head.  Couldn't put this one down.  Highly recommended.  jdw 2/16

Out of the Dark by Ashley Hope Perez

This is historical fiction based in the late 1930's in the oil fields of south Texas where there is a mix of black, white, Hispanic populations.  Folks lived fairly well no matter what race  since oil was plentiful and free gas could be had to use in all households.  Still there were separate schools for blacks and whites.  Whites had everything newer, more plentiful.  An Hispanic girl from a different part of Texas stuck out both in the white and the black community.  So Naomi came to New London, oil town, with her younger mixed race half siblings when their father came for them and took them from their mother's parents, their abuelitos.  Henry's pastor said it was the right thing to do.  Almost right away beautiful, resourceful, intelligent Naomi formed a friendship with the son of the principal of the black school.  He also was attractive, intelligent and resourceful.  There were constant racial tensions, who could shop at what store at what time, what was Naomi doing in the whites only school and so on.  Wash's and Naomi's friendship progressed, became more than friendship.  When Henry started making advances at Naomi, wanted to marry her things got especially tense and the pair made plans to escape taking the kids with.  Then there was a horrific explosion at the whites school.  Many were injured, many were killed.  The oil rig workers, the black community including Wash all did the best they could to save lives, to find the missing.  Afterward there were rumors about who was at fault for the explosion and ultimately deaths of so many white children.  Someone had to pay and ultimately whites set out to make the black community and in particular Wash and his family take the blame.  The family tried to escape.  They were nearly lynched.  Terrible, terrible racially motivated stuff happened to Wash, Naomi and Washes family.  Beto under his white name Robbie was the lone survivor.  A riveting story based on the New London Texas school disaster of March 1937.  Very hard to read and very hard to put down.   JDW 2/16

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Complicit by Kuehn

Crazy Cate Henry is out of jail after serving time for burning down a barn that killed several horses and severely injuring a classmate.  She is trying to contact her brother and tell him the truth of what happened. Jamie is avoinding her, convinced she is a seriously crazy dangerous person.  He is in therapy for a variety of anxiety related problems.  He and his sister were adopted after his mother died, horribly.  There is something that he should know but doesn't. Is his sister really the manipulative witch folks say she is or is she protecting him.  All the while his sister is seeking him and he is avoiding, he is carrying on a relationship with a classmate named Jenny and it is going well, but what if she does something to upset Jamie - what will happen then?  All one can do is read this twisted story and find out all the truth within.  It is a fairly riviting read once one gets caught up in it.
It is a look at mental illness from a different angle than I have seen before.  Recommended
jdw 2/13/16

Friday, January 29, 2016

Halo Evolutions Volume I

A set of stories involving the Halo universe. Every story with there unique plot and theme. For example Midnight in the Heart of Midlothian plot surrounds a sole survivor from a devastating ambush attack from the Covenant (a group of religious extraterrestrial alien species) the sole survivor has to wipe out the ships hard drive to save Earth from being discovered and escape the ship before it self destructs. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

This is where it ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This is a school shooting story.  Kids and teachers at a highs chool are locked in an auditorium during an assembly It is known to be easy to get stuck in and hard to escape from.  The shooter is a student who was returning after an absence so already familiar with the auditorium.  He apparently believes that the world is against him and wants to get revenge, he even feels this way about his sister.  He is portrayed as very anger filled, and hateful towards everyone.  He had been bullied but I didn't quite understand exactly by whom about what.  The story is told by various students both caught in the auditorium and from the outside.  Its called gripping and compelling.  I guess I have just read too many similar stories.  I needed the students who were telling the story to have more depth.  I could not really understand this kid's irrational anger and act.  He did not seem to be a  scary kid without conscience for instance.  Grieving a loss of a parent does not usually result in shooting folks who had nothing to do with the death...
JDW 1/25/16

A Ghostly Demise by Tonya Kappes

This title is on the list of recommended adult mysteries for teens.  It is somewhat similar to television episodes of Ghost Whisperer.  Emma Lee Raines is a betweener.  She accidentally discovered this fact when ghosts needing help in "passing over" started appearing to her.  After the first, there has been quite a string of them having been referred by the previous ghosts in need.  Since she happens to be operator of the local small town funeral home folks have thought the stress of her situation was causing trauma.  Not true.  When she is talking out loud to herself she is actually in conversation with one of her ghost clients.  This book is one of a series and I really want to read them all, this was such fun.  Cephus Hardy disappeared 5 years ago and was assumed to have run away or gone away.  He was the town drunk, womanizer, and perhaps gambler.  Not even his wife and son were especially disappointed or surprised when he vanished.  Only his beautiful, sexy daughter seemed to care.  So he appears to Emma Lee in a store, in front of a lot of people, throws her for a loop when she realizes the person talking to her cannot be seen by others, after she greeted him happily, out loud.  Anyway he does not know how he died, where his body lies and is not about to share all his sordid doings with Emma Lee and so the fun begins.  A traveling carnival is in town, since it stops every summer residents know many of the workers.  The town's favorite celebrity is there as well providing more than the usual suspects.  To add to the fun, Emma Lee's granny is running for mayor and causing quite a ruckus, which actually I guess she usually does anyway.  A murder at the carnival and Emma Lee has two ghosts to help pass over and they are not quiet and cooperative.  Of course everything is sorted out in the end, getting there is a hoot.  There are a couple of errors that a good editor should have caught but they were minor and easy to ignore.  There is a lot of descriptive text that does nothing to help advance the story so it must be there to get the required number of pages.  That was a small irritation that I skimmed over.  Happily recommended.
JDW 1/25/15