Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald

Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes is a cute novel about how friendships transition. Told in the voices of three girls (Olivia, Georgia & Kate) the novel relates each girls' perspective on their long-standing friendship, their crushes, and each other. Each girl is realistic and the story plays out well. I recommend this one for middle-school girls who worry that growing up means growing apart from their friends.

By the way, here's a fortune cookie recipe, in case this book makes you crave homemade fortune cookies, or if you want to duplicate Olivia, Georgia & Kate's idea.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

They found Avery, covered in blood, by the bodies of her parents. She was trying to put them back together. Avery herself can’t remember anything that happened after dinner. Just blood. And silver. And something that moved inhumanly fast. The police are baffled. Who in the small town of Westlake could – would - do that to two people. Avery’s parent’s were liked, even though they lived in the woods and kept to themselves. Everyone has always said the woods were home to strange half-human creatures in their deepest, most unreachable heart. Could the woods be holding other secrets, too? Secrets that came from the woods and murdered Avery’s parents?

Low Red Moon is a very well-written and enjoyable read. There’s mystery and romance in the story, and just when you start to think the ending is predictable and obvious, Devlin throws in a plot twist. I sincerely hope there’s a sequel planned.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham

I really wasn't sure if I'd like this novel. Gee's Bend has never really interested me, and I wasn't sure if a white adult novelist would be able to convincingly tell a story as a ten-year-old poor black child. But everyone was raving about the book, and the author is from Alabama, so I gave it a go. And am I ever glad that I did!

Ludelphia Bennett is such a wonderful character. She jumped into my mind and heart and took over as I raced through her story. Secondary characters were just as developed, and Gee's Bend seemed to come to life in my mind. Not only am I now interested in the history of this amazing place, I find myself with the urge to quilt...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nightshade by Andrea R. Cremer

Calla and Ren's destiny's have always been intertwined. At birth they were matched by the Keepers, and when they turn 18 they will be mated. Both alphas, they will then begin to form their own pack, patrolling the area to watch for and prevent an attack by the Searchers. Calla has always known this, but as Samhain, and her birthday, gets nearer she finds herself...restless. When she discovers an injured hiker while on patrol she starts down a path that will expose the deeply hidden history of the Guardians, Keepers and Searchers, and drive Calla away from everything she's ever known.

This novel was a refreshing twist on the werewolf theme. Though there are definite Twilight overtones, the heroine is much stronger and the plot is more thrilling. I stayed up late reading this book and absolutely cannot wait until the next book is published!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Joshua Files: Invisible City by M.G. Harris

Josh's father has been reported dead in a plane crash. He had been searching for a lost Mayan Codex, a book that many  disappeared trying to find. And when the news comes in that Josh's dad died of strangulation before the plane crashed, Josh knows he has to go to Mexico to find the truth.

This first novel in the action-packed Joshua Files brings Josh to the depths of the Mexican jungle and into a secret society existing beneath an ancient Mayan Pyramid. Sucked into a vortex of intrigue, Josh becomes a target for danger as he learns that his family holds the key to solving the mystery of the 2012 prophecy. Can Josh find the missing codex in time to save mankind?

~from publisher's description

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nightmarys by Dan Poblocki

Timothy and Stuart have been best friends since grade school, but lately Stuart has been getting kind of obnoxious and negative. When Timothy accidentally chooses the new girl, Abigail, as his project partner Stuart is furious. He won’t talk to Timothy and begins tormenting Abigail, who just wants to be left alone by everyone. Then Stuart really starts freaking out. At swim practice he insists a monster is in the pool waiting for him. Then he practically drowns. Timothy and Abigail have also been experiencing some weird phenomenon – all of which is connected to their deepest fears. A little digging and they find out it all started with Abigail’s grandmother, her best friend’s disappearance, an evil professor and a powerful curse that has travelled down through the generations to Abigail herself. To unravel the curse Abigail and Timothy must find an ancient jawbone and destroy it before all of their worst fears come to life.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Three Black Swans by Caroline B. Cooney

Missy, a sophomore, and her cousin Claire, a junior, have always been close. Closer than cousins. More like sisters, really. And as they’ve grown older people have started remarking on their similarities. Though Missy is energetic and outgoing where Claire is somber and quiet the two girls are almost identical in appearance. They’ve always laughed about it. Until the day Missy hears a radio program on sisters separated at birth. Until she dreams up with a hoax that really isn’t a hoax. Until the day her dramatic video airs on YouTube and people nationwide are discovering what the girls have always secretly suspected – they aren’t cousins but identical twins.

When Genevieve sees the video she’s shocked. She watches herself on the computer screen, sees her smile, hears her voice and even recognizes the small gestures the two girls on screen make. How can there be two more Genevieves?

Could it be possible that Missy and Claire aren’t twins but two thirds of triplets?

Caroline B. Cooney writes intriguing novels that explore relationships. Like The Face on the Milk Carton, Three Black Swans delves into the minds of teens who find out that the people they’ve called Mom and Dad for sixteen years are strangers. Shaken to the core they begin to question their existence and long to know the truth. What they learn is that the truth isn’t always nice and family isn’t necessarily what’s on your birth certificate.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fat Cat by Robin Brande

Catherine "Cat" Locke is a major science geek. This year she's even taking Mr. Fizer's Special Topics in Research Science class - a class known to cause stress overload in even the best students. And they don't even get to pick their own topic. They must blindly choose a photograph from Fizer's desk and base their project on that photo somehow. So Cat, who spent the summer studying fig wasps, is horrified when she pulls an illustration of Homo erectus - "Early hominins from 1.8 millions years ago." She now has until the end of class to write down a preliminary project idea and turn it in. How in the world can she base an entire year's research project - and science project final - on this?!?!


By the end of class Cat has her answer. It will involve Cat becoming her own science experiment. It will mean giving up the conveniences of modern life and most of the foods she loves. But if she succeeds, it will be one heck of a project. It might even beat Matt McKinney's (as if she cared about things like that).

This story is not about a fat girl losing weight and becoming popular, getting the guy, and ruling the school. It's a story about a girl taking control of her life for an unusual reason, but in the process becoming stronger, more confident and healthier. While her decisions may or may not be ones the rest of us are willing to make, they are definitely inspiring. I highly recommend this title!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Thomas arrives in the Glade with no memories of his time before. But strangely, things are familiar: the gray walls, the maze, the Grievers with their poison and knives, the Changing, the grounds of the Glade. Somehow, Thomas knows he's the only one who can get everyone out of the Maze. The Maze that has contained them for over two years...

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, you will love this book. It has the same plot of survival and leadership, but the circumstances and elements are entirely new and inventive. I highly recommend this one!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver is an interesting twist to the werewolf story. The wolves aren't monsters, at least, not any more than most humans, and they don't turn to wolves during the full moon. Instead the shift is dictated by temperature. Warm, sunny months are human where the chill of winter is wolf. As time goes on, time spent human becomes shorter and shorter, until eventually there is nothing but wolf time. This is Sam's last summer in human form. And it's the summer he finally gets to know Grace. It's the summer they officially fall in love, though they've loved each other long distance and inter-species for years. But in a few weeks it will all be over...unless they can figure out a way for one of them to permanently join the other's species for good.

I started this one on audiobook, then switched to hardback to finish it off. Audiobooks just don't go as fast as my eyes/brain, and I get frustrated - desperately wanting to know how the situation is resolved and how it all ends. If this describes you, too, check out the book so you can race to the end and find out who loves, who loses, and who finds a new form!
FYI: The sequel to Shiver, Linger, comes on on July 20th!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Bryn is a pack member, but not a werewolf. At the age of four a Rabid (lone werewolf) killed her parents and would have killed Bryn, but she was rescued by Callum, who marked her and made her part of the Stone River Pack. She has been raised with the pack. Taught to think like the pack. Learned to fight like the pack. Pack. Not Pack. Pack.

Now fifteen, she rebels against the alpha's control. And when she discovers his secrets and betrayal she must make hard decisions about her place in the pack. She must contemplate actions that will put her, and her friends, in danger not only from the Rabid that Bryn thought Callum had destroyed years ago, but from her own pack and packs across the United States.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes has done it again! This masterful storyteller has written a novel that will captivate her audiences with it's power and originality. I highly recommend it to fans of paranormal fiction.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

For an entire year Colt met Julia by the lake. For an entire year they touched, kissed, talked and shared themselves. For an entire year, they kept it all a secret. Now Julia is dead, and Colt doesn’t know how to let her go.

This short volume told an amazing story. Julia was from the wealthy side of town and Colt is lives in a lower middle-class area. Their love would have raised eyebrows, but it wasn’t exactly Romeo and Juliet. By keeping their relationship a secret, Colt now has no one to help him through his grief and feelings of guilt. The chronicle of his grief, memories, and slow recovery is emotional and realistic. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to fans of romance and drama.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising by Jason Henderson

I finished this book yesterday and simply could not get my brain to formulate a passable book review. I can say that I enjoyed this book tremendously, and that it is a nice change from the vampire love stories that have saturated the supernatural market. Beyond that, I drew a blank. But I did find this review from School Library Journal that says what I have been unable to articulate:

"Alex Van Helsing always believed he was a normal teen who just happened to possess a legendary last name. All that changes when he begins to experience strange sensations and is involved in the bizarre death of a student at Frayling Prep. His parents decide to send Alex to Switzerland in order to attend Glenarvon Academy near Lake Geneva. Alex's dreams of a new beginning are shattered when he is attacked by a vampire on his second day. He must now face the realization that his instincts about supernaturals have been right all along and that they do indeed exist. Mr. Sangster, Alex's teacher, reveals to him that the Van Helsings have always been an integral part of the Polidorium, a secret organization of vampire-hunters. The Polidorium is in Lake Geneva to find the Scholomance, a vampire stronghold under the leadership of an ancient vampire known as Icemaker. When the vampires take captive two of Alex's friends, the 14-year-old must take action. Henderson references Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to weave a great story line full of action, suspense, and adventure. The satisfying story captivates readers with a modern-day spin of James Bond meets Dracula. It has lots of bite that will have readers thirsting for more."

—Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Sadie and Carter Kane have lived apart since their mother's death six years ago. Sadie lives with their grandparents in London, while Carter travels the world with their Egyptologist father. Carter and Dr. Kane only get to visit with Sadie two days each year, and this Christmas Eve is one of those days. Dr. Kane and Carter pick Sadie up and head straight to the British Museum where Dr. Kane wants a closer look a the Rosetta Stone. He tells Carter and Sadie to lock the curator in his office and stay out of the room. Instead the teens sneak back just in time to see their father blow up the Rosetta Stone and unleash Set, an Egyptian god. Set traps Dr. Kane in a coffin and makes him disappear, and the teens barely get away with their lives. Now, with the help of an uncle they haven't seen for years, the teens travel the globe to find out what happened, escape the myriad of monsters chasing them, and find a way to stop Set and rescue their father...before Set can complete his evil plot of destruction.

The Red Pyramid was not the easiest book to get into. There is so much setup that the plot drags...at first. After about 75 pages the action picks up and it simply doesn't stop until the very last page. I really enjoyed this book and think this series might end up being even better than Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Morpheus Road: The Light by D.J. MacHale

Marsh Seaver is being haunted. Or hunted. Or both, really. It started with little sounds, like creaks and drips. Then darkness where there should have been light. Then hallucinations. Finally a creature from Marsh's own imagination, the Gravedigger, appeared and tried to kill him. All of this started the day his best friend, Cooper, disappeared. Now Marsh must team up with Cooper's sister, Sydney, to find out exactly what happened to his friend and how, or why, it's tied in with the sinister Gravedigger. Before it's too late...

D.J. MacHale is a well-known author of the 10-book Pendragon series. This new series, Morpheus Road, is horror/thriller instead of sci-fi, and should be exceptionally popular with his current fans. It reminded me a little of the original Nightmare on Elm Street movie, where the evil guy seemed to pop up everywhere and anywhere and the characters never seemed to be safe.

If you're a fan of horror movies, the good ones where the suspense builds on itself and puts you on the edge of your seat, then you will enjoy this book as much as I did.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Annual Poetry Contest - Honorable Mention

Fire Blazes
Night turns to ash
The sun rises
Arms of light reach to grab
The darkness that recedes
And life awakes
From deep in slumber
Upon the golden earth

Bridget Pettigrew
6th Grade
Our Lady of Sorrows School
Poem may not be reproduced without author's permission.

Annual Poetry Contest - 3rd Place Winner

The Color of Death

Drip, Drip, Drip,
Goes the thick substance;
As it slowly moves down my arm to the floor.

Whoosh, Whoosh, Whoosh,
Goes the setting sun;
As it throws its blazing color over me.

Rustle, Rustle, Rustle,
Goes the petals of the rose;
As they fall to cover my broken body.

Roar, Roar, Roar,
Goes the mighty flame;
As it rises up over me - making shadows dance over and around my sobbing form.

Hush, Hush, Hush,
Goes my body;
As my thick life force flows from my body to water the ground.

Victoria Boyce
10th Grade
Everest Academy
Poem may not be reproduced without author's permission.

Annual Poetry Contest - 2nd Place Winner

An Ache, or a Hankering, or a Bit of Both

I miss the mountains.
The fireflies in the evening,
the mosquitoes in the afternoon,
and the fresh air,
so deep that it can scarcely be breathed in.
I miss the feel of bare toes in the cool creek,
bare toes on the dry grass, on prickly dirt, the rough rock and smooth stone.
I miss the long days of going uphill without stop,
losing myself in the trees,
searching for the perfect view
and learning that the trail never ends.
I miss flashlight tag at night
and the big, glowing lanterns that dimmed in the radiance of the fire.
We read folklore aloud on those nights,
the characters somehow becoming more vivid than reality
in the dark that shrouded us.
I miss the toasted marshmallows that we nibbled on
and the hushed whispers as we fell asleep
under a roof made of black sky
and twinkling stars.

Sarah Jane Thielman
17 years old
Homewood High School
Poem may not be reproduced without author's permission.

Annual Poetry Contest - 1st Place Winner

Come Now, Brother

Come now, brother, let us hunt
Follow the scent, chase the wind.
Come now, brother, answer my call
The night has come.

Come now, brother, chase me,
Hunt my tracks, hunt my trail.
Come now, brother, I lead you
The hunger is upon me.

Come now, brother, follow me
Smell the prey, taste the fear.
Come now, brother, search with me
The bloodlust wakes inside us.

Come now, brother, aid me
Drag him down, bite his neck.
Come now, brother, eat with me
Let us savor our meal.

Come now, brother, run with me
Search for refuge, hurry home.
Come now, brother, let us sleep
Let us close our lupine eyes.

Michael Correro
Grade 10, Homewood High School
Poem may not be reproduced without author's permission.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Hollow by Jessica Verday

This excellent book is the first in a trilogy. It mixes paranormal romance and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow with a little mystery in a modern-day setting. Abbey's best friend, Kristen, has died in a tragic drowning accident. But the real question is why she was even at the river that day? Abbey searches for answers but what she finds is an elderly couple, Nikolas and Katy, and a gorgeous but unusual teen, Caspian. Caspian may be her soul mate - if she can ever figure out his secrets. And Nikolas and Katy are as dear to her as the grandparents she lost at age six, but they are also good at hiding the truth. When Abbey learns the secrets of these people she's come to love, it nearly unravels her - making her doubt her own sanity.

The book starts out slowly, but don't give up on it. It will definitely reward the patient reader!

Great for fans of Twilight!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Fast & the Furriest by Andy Behrens

Kevin Pugh is a 12-year-old couch potato. Cromwell is his beagle, a couch potato dog. Kevin’s looking forward to spending his summer sitting on the sofa, playing video games and generally doing as little as possible. Unfortunately, Kevin’s father, a former Bears star football player and super-sports fanatic, feels differently. So does Cromwell, who has suddenly and mysteriously developed a fascination with dog agility competitions: running up seesaws, leaping over hurdles, and attempting to soar through hoops (he usually gets stuck in the middle). If he has to do anything, Kevin would rather do something for newly obsessed Cromwell, but dog agility lessons cost money, and Kevin’s dad won’t pay for something that he doesn’t even consider a real sport. So he signs Kevin up for football camp instead. But some well-timed events collide, literally, and Kevin finds a way for he and Cromwell to take classes. Team Cromwell is born.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Pickle King by Rebecca Promitzer

Bea Kludnik lives in Elbow, where it rains 24/7 during the summer. Most people leave Elbow in the summer. The ones who can't afford to hit the road end up growing mold between their toes from the constant rain and mud.

This summer starts out the usual way - with rain. But then Sam shows up and takes Bea and her camera to an old, dilapidated house. Up the front stairs, into the foyer to a hole in the floor. Bea can see water in the hole - and something else. Something floating up toward the hole. It turns a bit and Bea realizes that she's seeing a dead body. A dead body of a man who's missing an eye! She quickly takes a few pictures then she and Sam scram. But Bea leaves with more than just a few snapshots. The ghost of the dead man is following, and he wants Bea, Sam and their friends to avenge his murder.

This was a good mystery with twists and turns, memorable characters, and a plot intricate enough to keep my interest. I recommend it to mystery fans, but be warned that it is a bit on the gross side.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Katarina (Kat) Bishop is descended from a long line of thieves and con artists...and she wants out. So she cons her way into boarding school and tries to lead a normal life. Just a few months later her family sets her up, gets her kicked out and picks her up to give her the bad news: Someone stole five paintings from mobster Arturo Taccone, and Taccone believes that someone was Kat's father. He wants his paintings back within two weeks or he'll do unbelievably horrible things to Kat's father and her entire family. Against the advice of the family patriarch, Kat goes to work, swinging back into the lifestyle she tried so hard to leave. But how will she even find the painting, much less pull off the biggest heist of the century?

I'm familiar with Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series and I thought this title would be more of the same: an enjoyable light read with romance, humor and wit. While this was definitely an enjoyable read, it was more mature and serious than what I was expecting. Kat is a sympathetic character who reads like a typical teen - though admittedly a teen with more on her plate than most high school girls. There is a hint of romance, an intriguing plot and enough action to keep a reader turning the pages to find out what happens. And then the twist....perfect! I highly recommend this book to teen girls who want more than the typical chicklit book.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Ten: Beka Cooper

16-year-old Beka Cooper is a product of the rough-and-tumble Lower City. Having spent the first half of her life in the slums, she is driven by the need to do what is right and see justice done. To that end, she has become a "Puppy," or trainee, in the Provost’s Guard, commonly known as the Provost’s Dogs. These guards serve the King as protectors of the city of Corus. Beka requests an assignment in the notoriously dangerous Lower City, her former home, and becomes the puppy of guards Matthias Tunstall and Clara Goodwin. These teachers are two of the best and toughest "Dogs" in the guard, and they set Beka straight to work, cracking heads and enforcing the law. As a puppy, Beka’s job is to chase down criminals and help bring them to justice; her only weapons are her wooden baton, her wits, and her ability to listen. This latter skill is helped by her magical ability to hear the ghostly whispers of the dead, carried by pigeons and dust spinners. She is also befriended by a supernatural cat named Pounce, and has a few loyal human friends to make life more bearable. As Beka settles into the routine of work in the Provost’s guard she begins to hear rumors of a nefarious criminal called the Shadow Snake.

The Snake kidnaps young children of the Lower City and holds them ransom for unique trinkets and family heirlooms. If the ransom is not paid, the children are either returned dead or are simply never seen again. Beka is outraged that the Shadow Snake has been preying on the city’s poor and unnoticed. And there’s something else. Among the spirits Beka hears are those of adults killed by poison and buried in the basements where they fell. Even though the old neighborhood has always been troublesome, this increase in crime is intolerable to Beka, and she aims to protect it against all odds. As she and her Dogs keep getting stymied in their pursuit of the killers, it is Beka who refuses to give up, pursuing even the smallest clue with the tenacity of a terrier, from which she gets her nickname.

Beka Cooper by Tamora Pierce
Book 1: Terrier
Book 2: Bloodhound
Book 3: Mastiff (due to be published sometime this year)

Ms. Heather's Note: Though Beka Cooper is my favorite, I really enjoyed all of Tamora Pierce's books. Her heroines are strong and courageous and all of her characters are very real. Though the different series' relate to each other, they don't have to be read in order...but it is more fun that way! For a list of all of the books in all of the series, check out her website: http://www.tamora-pierce.com/books.html

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Nine: Alcatraz Smedry

Alcatraz Smedry doesn't seem destined for anything but disaster. He has a unique talent -for breaking things. It is not something that endears him to the foster parents to whom he has been assigned. On his thirteenth birthday, Alcatraz receives an unusual gift: a bag of sand. The accompanying note from his parents explains that it is his inheritance. Alcatraz does not know who his parents are, where they are, or why they have sent him a bag of sand. He then burns down his current foster mother’s kitchen. Before his caseworker can relocate Alcatraz to yet another foster home, the bag of sand is stolen, he is attacked by a gun-wielding stranger, and he is rescued by a man claiming to be his grandfather. It turns out that Alcatraz is not living in the real world but trapped in the Hushlands, controlled by the cult of evil librarians plotting to take over the world. In a place where swords are more potent than guns, dinosaurs are proper English gentlemen, and only special glasses enable Alcatraz to see the truth, a talent for breaking things might be the only thing that can save the world.

Like Percy Jackson, Alcatraz is just finding out who he really is and his place in the world. These titles have a lot more humor, though, and lots of sarcasm!

Alcatraz Smedry series by Brandon Sanderson
Book 1: Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians
Book 2: Alcatraz versus the Scrivener's Bones
Book 3: Alcatraz versus the Knights of Crystallia

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Eight: Artemis Fowl

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl took over his family's evil criminal empire after his father's disappearance and his mother's nervous breakdown. The family’s fortunes are dwindling, though, following a bad business deal by Artemis’ now missing father. What does a millionaire boy genius do when the family is teetering on the brink of destruction? Hatch an evil plan, of course. And since Artemis is no ordinary boy, it’s no ordinary evil plan.

Having obtained the Book, a volume containing all of the fairies' secrets, he cracks the coded text and acquaints himself with fairy magic and technology. With the knowledge of the true existence of fairies and their magic, Artemis hatches a wicked scheme to steal their gold. Using the knowledge from the Book, he locates and kidnaps an elf, Capt. Holly Short, intending to hold her ransom. Capt. Short, however, is not the old-fashioned kind of fairy, but a member of the Lower Elements Police (or LEP). As a result, Artemis finds himself up against the thoroughly modern LEPrecon, an armed and dangerous branch of the LEP. This wisecracking team of satyrs, trolls, dwarfs and fellow fairies, led by Commander Root, will do anything to ensure Capt. Short's safe return. This story has lots of action, interesting gadgets and nefarious plots. More than a fantasy, it is the story that might result if James Bond were mixed with legends and the folklore of fairies, trolls, and goblins.

The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
Book 1: Artemis Fowl
Book 2: The Arctic Incident
Book 3: The Eternity Code
Book 4: The Opal Deception
Book 5: The Lost Colony
Book 6: The Time Paradox
Book 7: The Atlantis Complex (not out yet – due to be published July 2010)

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Seven: The Gods of Manhattan


Now, look again.

What do you see?

Layered over our modern day New York is a spirit city, called Mannahatta, home to Munsee Native Americans, warrior cockroaches riding rat steeds, a papier-mache child. Built by history and legend, it's ruled by the Gods of Manhattan, famous men and women of New York like Zelda Fitzgerald, Alexander Hamilton and Babe Ruth. These gods amuse themselves by playing dangerous power games, including wrongfully imprisoning the Munsees's spirits in Central Park. And now someone is assassinating these immortal gods, which should be impossible.

13-year-old Rory and his 9-year-old sister Bridget live in present-day New York City unaware that these ghosts, monsters and oddities coexist alongside them. Rory has a gift for seeing this other world, Mannahatta, but has repressed this ability until the day he wakes up and notices things which should not exist in the middle of a metropolis…or anywhere else, for that matter. Rory learns that he is the Light, the only one able to see past reality into this spirit world. Unfortunately for Rory, a Light also is the only one who can defeat the forces of evil at work in Mannahatta, which is why all the others have been killed. With the help of his little sister and a small but fearless Battle Roach named Fritz, Rory begins an exciting, occasionally terrifying journey through this intriguing world. His quest will be both difficult and dangerous, because while he’s searching for a way to free the Munsees, evil assassins are racing to find him-the boy who can change the destiny of New York.

The Gods of Manhattan by Scott Mebus

Book 1: The Gods of Manhattan

Book 2: Spirits in the Park

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Six: The Looking Glass Wars

You know the myth...
A little girl named Alice tumbled down a rabbit hole and proceeded to have a charming adventure in the delightful, made-up world of Wonderland...

Now discover the truth!
Alyss Heart is heir to the throne of Wonderland, just beginning her training under her albino tutor Bibwit Harte when her evil aunt Redd, long ago banished to the Chessboard Desert, leads a violent coup that kills King Nolan, Alyss's father. Alyss narrowly escapes through the Pool of Tears and ends up in London. After weeks begging and stealing with a band of street urchins, Alyss is sent to an orphanage and subsequently adopted by the Liddells. Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the bizarre, violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusted Lewis Carroll to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere would find her and bring her home. But she is devastated when she discovers that Carroll’s book, Alice's Adventures Underground, is full of make-believe, and not her story or even her real name. She sadly resigns herself to a life in exile in her new world. Years later, as she is preparing to marry Prince Leopold, Alyss’s dedicated bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, finally finds her. Dragged back to the home she feared she had only imagined, it is now up to Alyss to rally her troops, drive out her evil aunt Redd and claim her throne. Can she survive assassination attempts by the vicious Cat with nine lives, a spy amongst her faithful followers, brutal battles involving card soldiers who transform into warriors, chessmen, blades that whirl and slash, vicious Jabberwocks, and even carnivorous roses?

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Book 1: The Looking Glass Wars
Book 2: Seeing Redd
Book 3: Archenemy

The Percy Jackson Countdown: Day Five: The Ranger's Apprentice

In a medieval land called Arulen lives a fifteen-year-old orphan named Will. He dreams of becoming a knight, and longs to be apprenticed into battle school. His small, wiry size makes him a poor choice for his dream, but his quick thinking, honesty, and castle-scaling abilities make him the perfect candidate to be Halt’s hardworking apprentice. Halt is a Ranger, and the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways, have always made people nervous. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. What no one realizes is that the Rangers are the secretive protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle, surveillance, woodcraft and archery, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. He has sent two kalkera, brutish bear/apes, to assassinate Aruluen’s most prominent war leaders and weaken the fighting forces. This time, he will not be denied . . .

Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan
Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan
Book 2: The Burning Bridge
Book 3: The Icebound Land
Book 4: The Battle for Skandia
Book 5: The Sorcerer in the North
Book 6: The Siege of Macindaw
Book 7: Erak’s Ransom

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Percy Jackson Countdown Day Four: The 39 Clues

The 39 Clues series was started by and is overseen by Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. However, each book has a different author (though some authors write more than one title in the series). Each book has clues to the mystery, and you can also play the game on an interactive website (www.the39clues.com).

"What would happen if you discovered that your family was one of the most powerful in human history? What if you were told that the source of the family's power was hidden around the world, in the form of 39 Clues? What if you were given a choice — take a million dollars and walk away...or get the first Clue? If you're Amy and Dan Cahill, you take the Clue — and begin a very dangerous race." (from publisher's description)

The 39 Clues series
Book 1: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
Book 2: One False Note by Gordon Korman
Book 3: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis
Book 4: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson
Book 5: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman
Book 6: In Too Deep by Jude Watson
Book 7: The Viper's Nest by Peter Lerangis
Book 8: TBA (by Gordon Korman & due out April 2010)
Book 9: TBA (by Linda Sue Park & due out May 2010)
Book 10: TBA (by Margaret Peterson Haddix & due out August 2010 - also the last book in the series)

The Percy Jackson Countdown Day Three (slightly less belated): The Stoneheart Trilogy

The Stoneheart Trilogy, by Charlie Fletcher, is a book of magic and adventure...and being in the wrong place at the right time.

A city has many lives and layers. London has more than most. Not all the layers are underground, and not all the lives belong to the living. George Chapman is about to find this out the hard way. On a school trip he's punished for something he didn't do. In a tiny act of rebellion, he lashes out at a small carving on the wall--unexpectedly breaking it off. And then something horrible does happen: a stone Pterodactyl unpeels from the wall and starts chasing him. George is already running before his mind starts trying to tell him this is impossible.Chased through the streets of London, George only survives because the statue of a soldier, Gunner, comes to life and assists him. It seems that the soulless statues of London are angry at George for his act of rebellion, and he will not be able to escape them until he finds something called the Stone Heart and repairs what he has broken. But Walker, a man cursed to walk the Earth forever, wants George and his new friends Gunner and Edie to find the Stone Heart for more sinister reason...

The Stone Heart Trilogy by Charlie Fletcher
Book 1: Stoneheart
Book 2: Ironhand
Book 3: Silvertongue

The Percy Jackson Countdown Day Two (belated): The Last Apprentice

The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney will appeal to those who like spine-tingly titles. Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son. His older brothers have all been apprenticed off and his oldest brother is married and taking over the farm from their parents. It is time for Tom to be apprenticed, and his master will be the village spook. The spook is the man people call when they hear bumps in the night or see things that shouldn't be. He banishes, captures and kills the creatures that haunt and hunt the living. And Tom is not his first apprentice...he's the 29th. What happened to the other 28? Some floundered, some fled, and some did not survive. As the spook's time on the earth begins to dwindle, Thomas becomes his last apprentice, his last hope. Will he succeed where the others did not?

The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney
Book 1: Revenge of the Witch
Book 2: Curse of the Bane
Book 3: Night of the Soul Stealer
Book 4: Attack of the Fiend
Book 5: Wrath of the Bloodeye
Book 6: Clash of the Demons