Archive for January, 2011

Cherub: The Dealer by Robert Muchamore

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Spy Novel

# of Pages:  308

RAC Book:  Yes

James is back in this sequel as a twelve year old secret agent in CHERUB.  He begins the story by failing a training exercise and must face some rigorous training in order to earn some respect back from his fellow agents.  When he is asked to join a mission with three other teens he is eager and ready to go again.  Their mission is to befriend the children of a notorious drug dealer.  He ends up making friends with Junior, the boy his own age, pretty quickly and becomes one of the best inside informants.  As the others try to find information on the drug ring itself, James is offered the chance to deliver cocaine for cash.  He takes the opportunity to try and learn more about the inner workings of the organization, but quickly wonders if he has gotten in over his head.  Can James and his friends escape this mission unscathed?

This sequel is every bit as fun and exciting as the first.  James’ mission is dangerous, exciting, and believable as an important mission for any country to be focusing so many prime resources on.  The book is fast paced and the facts are revealed in a timely manner.  Fans of spy books such as The Sleeper Code will enjoy this title.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  198

RAC Book:  Yes

Nikki Heat is an NYPD detective investigating a murder of a man dropped from a six story balcony.  She is less than thrilled when she is forced to allow a writer to shadow her for background research, despite his obvious enthusiasm for her work.  Jameson Rook travels with her to crime scenes, interrogations, and autopsies so that he can gain enough insight into Nikki’s squad that he can write an article about them.  He always promises to stay out of the way, but has a knack for finding his way into trouble.  As Nikki tries to solve the murder further incidents try to distract her from her mission including a personal attack in her home, an attack on a witness, and a major theft.  Can Nikki sort through the many clues to find the truth about what happened?  Can she do it while Rook is standing by her side?

This book is based on the character’s of ABC hit series Castle. The book closely resembles the characters in the show they are meant to be based on and make it a fun read for fans of the show.  The mystery itself is complex, but not convoluted.  The clues reveal themselves in a timely manner and the outcome is satisfying.  The backdrop of NYC in the midst of a heat wave is an interesting setting for the story and the extreme heat does affect their investigation from time to time.  All in all, a fun mystery story for fans of writers like Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha Christie.

My Ultimate Sister Disaster by Jane Mendle

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  198

RAC:  Yes

Franny feels like her life is too ordinary and that she has no special talents.  Her sister, Zooey, meanwhile is one of the best ballerinas at her elite ballet school and has just been offered the role of a lifetime playing Juliet in an upcoming production.  Franny secretly likes her newspaper editor and desperately wants to write a valuable article for the paper.  Things do not work out well for either sister when Zooey breaks her leg and is sidelined from the performance and Franny’s debut article is rejected by her crush.  The two are forced to spend more time together than they have in years and they learn that they have many misunderstandings regarding each other.  Can they find a way for them to co-exist without one of them feeling less than worthy?

This story sounds simple, but the characters draw the reader in.  Even readers who do not have siblings will be able to identify with that person that seems to have everything together while they do not.  Everyone has that person and this book really shows that no one has a perfect life and everyone thinks someone else has a better life than they do.  There is also a bit of romance and some lighthearted drama in the book that young high schoolers will enjoy.  Recommended for readers who enjoy Sarah Dessen novels.

The Fallen: Volume 1 by Thomas Sniegoski

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages: 517

RAC Book:  Yes

Aaron Corbet has been in the foster care system since his mother died in childbirth.  He has no idea who his father is, but has over the years managed to find a great foster family.  When he turns eighteen he begins to hear strange voices and has terrible nightmares.  One particularly heinous day he has terrible migraines, but when they pass he can suddenly understand and speak any language.  This includes animal languages, which he learns once he finds he can now understand his dog.  Aaron decides to go to his psychiatrist and he agrees to run some tests, but before that can happen Aaron is approached by a strange man who tells him he is the son of a fallen angel and a human woman.  If that isn’t crazy enough, he goes on to say that there was a prophecy in which he was foreseen as reuniting the fallen angels with heaven.  Does Aaron have the strength to complete such a big task?

This book is fast paced and exciting, but does not shy away from violence and loss.  Aaron often feels timid about his power and his mission, but it’s easy to see that he is in fact the one described in the prophecy.  While it’s understandable that he should have doubts about himself and the situation, hopefully he will begin to find some confidence in future volumes.  The story is complex and will continue to unfold, but fantasy readers will not be disappointed in this exciting tale.

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  213

RAC Book:  Yes

Cheyenne is a sixteen-year-old girl who has pneumonia.  When her stepmom runs into the pharmacy to get Cheyenne’s prescription a teenage boy jumps in the car and steals it, without knowing that Cheyenne is lying in the back seat.  Once he discovers her he also learns that she is blind.  Unsure of how to handle this situation, he goes home hoping his father can help.  Unfortunately, his father merely sees this as an opportunity to collect a ransom.  As the ransom plan moves forward Cheyenne starts to fear they have no intention of keeping her alive.  Can she manage to escape a place she has never seen before using her four remaining senses?

The fact that Cheyenne is blind lends a unique twist to a fairly common storyline.  She is a complex and interesting character that the reader naturally roots for.  Griffin, the boy who inadvertently kidnaps her, is struggling with a terrible home life and the apparent abandonment by his mother.  The two together grow quite a bit throughout the ordeal and end up finding courage they never thought they had.  Fans of Carolin B. Cooney’s novels will enjoy this one as well.

Top 8 by Katie Finn

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  304

RAC Book:  Yes

Madison MacDonald is horrified when she returns from her two week spring break vacation with her family to discover that her “friendverse” account (which is like Facebook) has been hacked.  While she was in Ecuador without Internet access someone broke into her account and wrote terrible things to her friends and even broke up with her boyfriend.  As Madison deals with the fallout of everyone hating her, she is also trying to find out why someone would want to hurt her this way.  Meanwhile, she is also hanging out with a boy she met on her trip.  Can Madison clear her name and find the culprit before her life becomes unbearable?

This story is a quick, light read but many teens will be able to identify with it.  Madison comes to the shocking realization that many people have a motive to hurt her and it makes her wonder if she needs to change the way she lives.  The writing style is a bit simple at times and most readers will figure the hacker out before Madison does, but the message is a good one and it is in a format many teens will understand.  The romance will also interest many young readers.  The issues of trust, cyber bullying, and gossip are handled well here and are unfortunately timely issues that teens need to face.

Rush by Jonathan Friesen

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  295

RAC Book:  Yes

Jake King has always had a need for danger and excitement, but this need has gotten him into trouble on more than one occasion.  When his climbing antics actually injure an innocent bystander he is expelled from school.  At this point, he decides to join a very dangerous fire fighting troop in his town, but his next door neighbor and love interest does not like this idea because many young men have died mysteriously in this group.  Jake really feels fighting dangerous forest fires will be the only way he can keep himself from doing more crazy stunts in an attempt to clear his head.  Once he is training, however, he receives some stern warnings about one of the leaders and believes it is up to him to stop that leader from putting anyone else in danger.

Jake believes that he cannot think straight unless he is on an adrenaline high.  He also believes he has no fear of death, which is why he will not get involved with his next door neighbor whom he secretly loves.  Jake’s motivations and feelings are displayed clearly, but some of the back story is a little confusing at first.  It’s like stepping into a story where the characters have backgrounds that the reader is expected to know.  Some readers may be disappointed in the training and fire fighting scenes as well.  The book is advertised as being about someone who loves the adrenaline rush, but many of his death defying stunts are described quickly and fail to truly draw the reader in.  This book is still recommended for readers who like action and climbing books, but this is not the best one out there.

Manifest by Artist Arthur

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

Krystal has recently moved to a new town due to her parent’s divorce and she is having trouble adjusting to her new life.  She has not made any friends, has stopped eating, and now has begun seeing ghosts.  Specifically, one ghost named Ricky has been following her.  He was a student at her school, but was shot and killed before she arrived.  Now he wants to find who really killed him so that he can cross over.  As Krystal copes with this difficult situation she meets two other students who mysteriously have the same birthmark as her.  They quickly realize that they all have special gifts and they plan to work together to find out what happened to Ricky.  They call themselves the Mystyx.  Despite Krystal’s hesitance to let others in on her secret, she finds relief when she can talk to her new friends about her supernatural visions.  Her relief is short lived, however, when she realizes that someone wants to hurt her for helping Ricky and the reasons behind his murder go deeper than she expected.

The plot of this story is interesting as Krystal tries to piece together what happened to Ricky.  The characters are interesting and well developed.  The writing style is a little simple and might turn off some young adult readers.  The beginning feels a bit slow and predictable, but once she meets her fellow mystyx things pick up quickly.  Fans of supernatural mysteries will enjoy this title, but it is not the best one out there right now.  Recommended to supplement a thriving fantasy collection.