Archive for October, 2010

Legacies by Mercedes Lackey

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  308

RAC Book:  Yes

Spirit must attend the boarding school Oakhurst Academy when her family is unexpectedly killed in a car accident.  Upon arrival Spirit is notified that she is a legacy at the school, which means that one or both of her parents attended this school.  The school is a boarding school for orphans who have magical abilities.  Despite the assurance she has magical abilities, Spirit cannot seem to find any affinity to any magical gifts.  As the school year progresses, students start disappearing and Spirit and her friends take on the task of finding out who or what is causing these disappearances.

For fantasy fans, this story will be a page turner.  The character development does not seem as developed as in other popular fantasy series, like Harry Potter, and there is virtually no involvement of adults so it is unclear who actually knows what is going on with the mysterious disappearances.  The mystery itself is interesting, but there are many unanswered questions regarding Spirit’s past and her actual magical abilities.  Recommended for serious fantasy fans.

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The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  362

RAC Book:  Yes

Nina is a vampire who belongs to a group called the reformed vampire support group.  This group meets to talk to each other about their difficult lives.  The life of a vampire is not as exciting as the movies would suggest for these vampires cannot change into bats, sparkle in the sun, or fight particularly well.  Instead they live on small rodents and take supplements, which leave them feeling sick most of the time.  They are, however, not a threat to anyone.  They are alarmed when one vampire fails to arrive for a meeting and they find him staked in his apartment.  They have no idea who could have done this and worry that the same killer could be coming for them.  In order to stop this they go on the offensive and start looking for this person, but only land themselves into more danger.

This is a very different vampire story from Twilight and Blue Bloods. These vampires are not glamorous or attractive, but nevertheless feel a need to preserve what little life they have left.  It is humorous in parts, but does get a bit long at times.  Vampire fans will enjoy this as a lighthearted story, but it won’t be anyone’s favorite vampire book.

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  324

RAC Book:  Yes

Lyn does not want to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a gladiator wife, but when her seventh gladiator father falls in the arena she worries about the future of her family.  The gladiator association has rules that her mother can never marry again and due to an illegal disqualification of her stepfather, her family loses all benefits and assets.  His opponent picked up the bracelet she had given her father for luck and keeps it as a prize, but this means that by the rules of the arena she must marry him.  Lyn cannot bear to marry the man her murdered her father, but her only other choice would be to face him in the arena herself…

Fans of The Hunger Games series will find this interesting, but not as appealing as that trilogy.  There is some gore and violence, but most of the story deals with Lyn and her family coping with the loss of everything after the death of Tommy, her mother’s seventh husband.  Lyn’s brother has some mental disabilities, but is also able to make predictions.  These predictions give the story an interesting twist as his predictions grow more and more surprising.  The premise behind this story is a bit more exciting than the actual execution of it, but readers of this type of fiction will enjoy it.

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  292

RAC Book:  Yes

Tamsin was proclaimed to be the most powerful witch in her family at her birth, but by her eighth birthday no gifts had appeared and the family believed she was without any powers.  When Tamsin is 17 she is working at her family’s magic shop when a bumbling English professor comes in to ask for her help in finding a lost item.  He mistakenly believes she is her talented older sister and she lets him because she wants to prove she is useful to the family.  She finds his object, but learns he did not tell her the truth about his intentions and she may have unwittingly put her entire family in danger.  Can she find a way to save her family?  Can she find the power within herself that she was predicted to have?

Fans of fantasy stories will enjoy this one as Tamsin and her many magical family members struggle through this attack on their family.  Time traveling, spells, and potions are all present and used in a unique way.  There are a few times when the plot seems a bit cumbersome and confusing, but fantasy readers will power through.  The ending leaves some questions, but most will find it satisfying.

Pop by Gordon Korman

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  260 p.

RAC:  Yes

Marcus is new in town and cannot wait for football tryouts in the fall.  Over the summer he conditions himself in the park everyday.  One day a middle aged man comes and tackles him.  It is the strongest tackle he has ever had, but he finds himself looking forward to these workout sessions.  His new friend, Charlie, tends to behave erratically at times, however, and Marcus cannot figure him out.  For example, one day he throws a football into a car window and then runs away leaving Marcus to deal with the damage.  Meanwhile, Marcus is not welcomed onto the high school football team that has an undefeated record and does not have an interest in even holding tryouts.  Will his new ability to take and give tackles give him an edge?  Will he ever learn why Charlie acts so peculiar?

Teenage boys will enjoy this book because it is current and timely, but still incorporates nostalgic football memories that they will be able to relate to.  Charlie’s situation is handled well and will help students understand more about the condition.  It’s a very relatable story about a high school football player that I predict will fly off the shelves.  Highly recommended for fans of sports fiction.

Numbers by Rachel Ward

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  325

RAC Book:  No

Jem has always seen numbers when she looks directly into people’s eyes, but she never knew what they meant.  When her mother overdoses and dies, Jem realizes that the numbers she sees spell out the day a person will die.  Naturally, Jem tries not to get close to anyone or look directly into their eyes because she cannot bear knowing such important information.  A boy named Spider tries to befriend her anyway, and Jem finds herself wanting to spend time with him, even though she knows his death day is mere weeks away.  Can she change his fate?

This story has an interesting premise, but drags in places and many readers will struggle to get through it.  The ending is fast paced and interesting, but the journey to get there may lose some readers along the way.  Jem’s character seems flat and uninteresting until the end when she accepts her role in life.  This was a clever idea, but only somewhat realized through the story.

Cherub: The Recruit by Robert Muchamore

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Adventure

# of Pages:  345

RAC:  Yes

After James becomes an orphan and his sister is taken away, he has to live in a group home and cannot seem to keep out of trouble.  One day James wakes up in a totally new environment and learns that he has the chance to train to become a child spy for the organization called CHERUB.  This organization has been around for decades and uses children because no one suspects children of being spies.  James must endure some intense training in order to even be considered for this elite organization, but he believes it might be just what he needs in order to succeed and do something with his life.  Can he survive the training?

This espionage story is fun and fast paced as James’s life changes quickly from chapter to chapter.  Readers will like James and want good things to happen to him even if he makes questionable decisions at times.  Boys and reluctant readers will especially enjoy this story and will be eager for the sequel.