Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #14

Trixie Belden and The Mystery of the Emeralds (#14) - 1965

By Kathryn Kenny

After Trixie finds an old letter in her attic, she tries to solve a 100-year-old mystery She and the Bob-Whites go to Williamsburg, Virginia, to find an old plantation house - Rosewood Hall - that was the home to the Sunderland family during the Civil War. Rumor has it that a cursed emerald necklace is buried in a secret passageway there. But after all that time, Rosewood Hall is just a ruin. Is it too late for Trixie to find the missing emeralds?

What I like about this book is the fact that the trail of the mystery starts in Sleepyside and leads Trixie somewhere else. The mystery is well written and it has great scenes with a couple twists, and the suspense will keep you turning pages.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, Book 1) by Melissa De La Cruz

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786838922
ISBN-13: 978-0786838929

From School Library Journal:
De la Cruz has revamped traditional vampire lore in this story featuring a group of attractive, privileged Manhattan teens who attend a prestigious private school. Schuyler Van Alen, 15, the last of the line in a distinguished family, is being raised by her distant and forbidding grandmother. Schuyler, her friend Oliver, and their new friend Dylan are treated like outsiders by the clique of popular, athletic, and beautiful teens made up of Mimi Force, her twin brother, and her best friend. What they have in common is the fact that they are all Blue Bloods, or vampires. They don't realize that they aren't normal until they reach age 15.
Schuyler Van Alen, age 15, has always been the outcast at her upscale private school. She thinks of herself as just a normal teenager, living a normal life, and who doesn't seem to fit in, nor does she try to fit in. Oliver Hazard-Perry is Schuyler's best friend, and when a student at their school turns up dead, the two friends start to investigate.

Suddenly Schuyler learns she is a member of an elite "family" of vampires, The Blue Bloods. The Blue Bloods came to America on The Mayflower trying to escape the one thing that can kill them, the Silver Bloods. For centuries they've lived in peace, but now the danger is back.

This book is full of "Paris Hilton-like" characters - Mimi and Jack Force, the top dog socialites, and Mimi's BFF Bliss Llewellyn, who is a newcomer from Texas. This story has a "Gossip Girl" type appeal, and although I didn't much care for the obsession with fashion, but it was essential to show the different sides of these characters. I instantaneously hated Mimi, but I fell in love with Schuyler. She is very likable, cute, smart, and street smart. I look forward to seeing her character grow, and I look forward to more interactions between her and Oliver.

I realize that most "vampire" books are compared with Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight", but this book has a different take on the vampire theme. I enjoyed the story and it managed to keep my interest throughout. This book is similar to creative non-fiction, because the author inserts real historical events - like the disappearance of the original Roanoke colony - which make it an intriguing story. Consumption killed most of the original Roanoke colony and there was once a period in history where people actually did equate consumption with vampirism.

This is the first book in the Blue Blood series. The next books are: Masquerade, Revelations and The Van Alen Legacy.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416989412
ISBN-13: 978-1416989417

From School Library Journal
High school sophomore Nora Grey, a dedicated student striving for a college scholarship, lives with her widowed mother in a country farmhouse outside Portland, ME. When Patch, her new biology partner, is suddenly thrust into her life, Nora is both attracted to his charm and put off by his inexplicable awareness of her thoughts. Eventually, she learns that he is a fallen angel who wants to become human. She is susceptible to his control, but other forces are at work as well, and Nora finds herself caught in the middle of dangerous situations and unexplainable events.
Hush, Hush is a new paranormal YA book that takes us away from the well-used genre of vampires. It is full of suspense and mystery with an ending that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Fitzpatrick has hit the ball out of the park with her debut novel, making me eager for the second book in the series.

Nora Grey is the typical girl next door, trying to come to grips with the death of her father, while being left alone much of the time as her mother works away from home. An excellent high school student, Nora and her BFF, Vee, love shopping and talking about boys, although neither have a current boyfriend.

Then Nora is forced to be lab partners with the gorgeous mystery boy, Patch. Patch is new to school and after partnering with Nora, sparks seems to fly between the two. Nora is uncertain of her feelings toward Patch - she gets a "bad boy" vibe from him, but can't help the growing attraction she feels toward him.

Suddenly, Nora is being followed by a stranger in a ski mask and is having "visions" of events that don't seem to be happening. Did she really hit the ski masked man with her car? Did she really fall out of a roller coaster?

Nora becomes convinced that Elliot - another new boy at school - is behind all her problems, while Vee is convinced Nora's problems are because of Patch. The conclusion of this mystery had me guessing to the very end and I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Although the genre of fallen angels is starting to become a staple in the YA world, Fitzpatrick seems to have a different take on the idea and created a totally believable fantasy story. Her dialogue is typical of modern day teenagers and she has tapped into their emotions with accuracy.

The next book in this series is Crescendo and will be released in November. I, for one, will be waiting anxiously for this new release. Becca Fitzpatrick has cemented herself as an up and coming figure for YA audiences.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #13

Trixie Belden and The Mystery on Cobbett's Island (#13) 1965

By Kathryn Kenny

"When the Bob-Whites arrive on Cobbett’s Island for vacation, Trixie finds a mysterious letter. Many years ago, a fortune was hidden. But the clues in the letter are hard for Trixie to understand. What does “start sailing” mean? Is this a treasure hunt on land . . . or on sea?"
Honey and Jim have invited the Bob-Whites to a vacation on Cobbett's Island. When Trixie announces she just wants to relax, none of her friends believe her - Trixie relax? Yeah, right!

The gang arrives on Cobbett's Island just as a fierce storm hits. The Bob-Whites find a letter in the library of the house they are staying in and it sends them on a treasure hunt to find some missing money.

This is one of my favorites in the series, because everyone is having fun and they come together in the end to solve the mystery. The characters are shown without some of considerable flaws being over exaggerated like in other books. Even Diana - the 'fraidy cat of the bunch - is able to contribute.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - Trixie Belden #12

Trixie Belden #12 - The Mystery of the Blinking Eye - 1963

By Kathryn Kenny

While on vacation, theBob-Whites are staying at the Wheelers' deluxe apartment in New York City, where they will meet their friends from Iowa - Ned, Barbara and Bob. When the gang goes to the Kennedy Airport to pick up their friends, Trixie helps out a mysterious traveler who hands her a strange written fortune. Leave it to Trixie to stumble into a mystery!

Later, while window shopping with Honey, Trixie finds an ugly wooden statue she just has to have. Soon after buying the curious little statue, Trixie is followed by menacing strangers. Do the fortune and the statue have anything in common? Read The Mystery of the Blinking Eye and find out!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Meeting Dad

by Brian Russell (author);
Katerina Stoykova-Klemer (editor);
Simeon Kondev (illustrator)

Paperback: 27 pages
Publisher: Accents Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984411836
ISBN-13: 978-0984411832

This slim chapbook is a heartwarming look at a son who feels abandoned by his birth father. The raw emotion of this young man as he tries to find answers in his father's actions oozes off the pages. With divorce rates almost 50% in our country, there are many boys who are faced with this same situation - Brian Russell gives a voice to these boys.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Before I Fall

"Before I Fall" by Lauren Oliver

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006172680X
ISBN-13: 978-0061726804

I'm usually picky about books when it comes to first time authors, but something about the description on the jacketflap caught the attention of my muse and I had to buy this book. And now I'm very glad I did!

This is the story of Sam(antha), a spoiled little rich girl who has never wanted for anything. We get to know Sam and her snobby, spoiled friends at the beginning of the story and you have to be patient as you are introduced to them because I instantly hated them all. Just when you think you've had enough of them, they end up being in a deadly crash. But this is not the end of the story, it is only the beginning.

Oliver's debut novel is a frank and full of teenage insights and startling candidness. At times the story gives you a brutal look at high school social circles, complete with the careless cruelties and bullying that occurs on a daily basis.

Sam is one of the mean girls - or at least, she runs with the mean crowd. They all think they are better than everyone else, but even with the complex and carefully plotted events, Oliver has peeled back the layers of these girls' lives and taught us that every little deed has a consequence. Through a series of events, like Groundhog Day, Sam will live the same day over and over until she can set events in her life to order.

Sam is in the "in-crowd" and likes it there. She's part of the group that mistreats all the other "nobodies" at her school and is proud of it. Sam is not a likable character at the beginning of the novel, but as her character is revealed and we learn a few things she has done in her life that morphs her into a true, selfless, and caring heroine, despite her many flaws. Watching this spoiled girl realize how wrong she has been is satisfying, and seeing her struggle to become a better person with only one day was spellbinding. Wondering how she is going to changed things makes you not want to put this book down (hence the reason I read it in one sitting!).

I won't spoil what occurs in the book, but I should warn you that this book is not meant for the younger crowd. Oliver paints a realistic picture of teen youth, including alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and peer pressure.

"Before I Fall" is a haunting and beautiful book and it will remain on your mind long after you turn the last page.