Archive for January, 2014

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

madness underneath

Genre: Fantasy

# of Pages:  290

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel to The Name of the Star Rory is recovering from her near fatal encounter with a deadly ghost in Bristol with her parents.  After a few weeks, her therapist surprisingly advises she return to school in London to resume her schoolwork and begin to move forward.  Rory is thrilled at the idea of returning to school, but she is very far behind on her schoolwork and has no idea how she can make it up.  Meanwhile, Stephen and the other shades are trying to solve an unusual murder that occurred very close to where Rory’s attack was.  Are they connected? Did her encounter somehow trigger other supernatural attacks in the immediate area of the school where all of her friends go?

This sequel moves very quickly and has a very exciting ending.  Fans of the first novel will enjoy this title as the Shades are detailed a little more and the challenges of their group’s existence are explained in a bit more detail.  Rory’s future in London seems very unsure at this point, but there are possibilities for how she will proceed laid out that could come into play in future books.   The supporting characters from the school are still just as colorful as ever, but are not featured as much as they were in the first book.  Overall, it’s a good sequel, but a tad fast and fans will be eager to see another one sooner rather than later.

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

eye of minds

Genre:  Science Fiction/Mystery/Adventure

# of Pages:  310

RAC:  Yes

Michael enjoys playing video games, but he lives in a world where the best games are part of the VirtNet.  In the VirtNet you can actually immerse yourself completely into the game and leave your body behind in your house.  There are many types of games you can play, adventures you can try, and friends to meet in the virtual world.  People like it because they can do things they wouldn’t normally do in real life and if they “die” they simply wake up  safely in their own home.  Recently, there have been reports about a gamer who has managed to hurt people both in the game AND in real life.  Michael and his friends are enlisted to track this gamer down because they are very successful hackers and can see stuff others can’t.  Michael and his friends learn quickly that this is no ordinary gamer and if they are not careful they will not come out of this alive.  If they do not help the Virtual Authorities to catch this guy they will have all of their privileges revoked and can never game again.  Can they face a life without gaming?  Are they willing to risk their lives to keep gaming?

Fans of The Maze Runner series will enjoy this title as well.  Like that series, this one has a fair amount of excitement and violence.  The book is also set up as a series of tasks the characters must accomplish in order to be free.  The tasks are very challenging and often scary, but the characters feel they have no choice but to press on and follow through.  The ending is a bit of a surprise, but fans of  Dashner would be surprised if there wasn’t a twist at the end.  Video gamers, boys, and reluctant readers will enjoy this title.

Out of the Pocket by B. E. Stanfel

out of the pocket

Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  209

RAC Book:  Yes

Mercer is a high school senior in 2003 struggling with his father’s deployment in Iraq.  The entire book is written in journal entries for his English teacher as well as emails to his dad in Iraq.  Mercer is focused on football and the dream of getting a full ride scholarship to the University of Iowa.  He begins writing emails to a teenager in Iraq that his dad works with occasionally.  Through these emails, Mercer begins to see that his life is very different from that of a teenager in Iraq and he should be grateful for the life he has.  At the same time, it is very difficult for Mercer to not have his dad with him for his senior year and he believes his family is starting to drift apart with his dad’s absence.  As time passes, Mercer begins to question his loyalty to this war.    Can he be the man his father wants him to be while he’s away?  Can he take care of his family the way he thinks he should?  When will his dad return to him?

This new title is written by a former teacher of Dowling Catholic High School and we are pleased to have received some copies early after it’s release.  The story captures the many worries and thoughts that go through a typical teenager’s head during his or her senior year but adds in the extra burden of having a father deployed.  The book provides a lot of detailed information concerning the war.  Students who enjoy reading about soldiers will enjoy the book as it is easy to identify with Mercer.  Recommended for those teenage boys who often have trouble finding titles that appeal to them.

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

The Rules for Disappearing

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  312

RAC:  Yes

Meg and her sister, Mary, have been moved from one location to another multiple times over the past year since their family was placed in witness protection.  Each time they must change their names and backstories so that no one has any idea where they came from.  They do not know why they are in witness protection and Meg blames her father for whatever he did that landed them in this hellish situation.  Mary has begun withdrawing and their mother has started drinking heavily.  The reason for why they have to be moved so many times is elusive to them too and Meg has about had it with being ignorant about their own situation.  When they move this time she vows to remain neutral and distant so that she does not become attached to anyone or anything, but that becomes very difficult when she meets Ethan…  Can she stand to lose him if they get moved in the middle of the night again?  How can she ever make him understand why she acts the way she does?

This book is highly exciting and engaging as you learn the reason for why Meg and her family are in witness protection in the first place.  People are obviously looking for them and Meg often feels as if people are watching her.  At the same time, she is beginning to feel angry and bitter about spending her senior year going from school to school, working an after school job to keep her family financially afloat, and taking care of her family emotionally.  Once the reality of their situation is revealed, Meg feels responsible to fix their situation even if it means putting herself in danger to do so.  The ending is very dramatic, but a tad quick.  Most readers will be satisfied by the resolution at the end of the story.  Recommended for everyone, but reluctant readers will enjoy.

Five Summers by Una LaMarche

five summers

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  378

RAC:  Yes

This book follows four girls who have spent five summers at camp together over the years.  The first summer was when they were ten and the last is a reunion weekend when they are 17.  When they go to the reunion they had not actually all four been together for three years.  The last night of camp three years ago they all had secrets from each other that have been threatening to come out ever since.  Will they still be as close as they were all these years later?  How have things changed since they last saw each other?

Fans of friendship books such as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and  Peaches will enjoy this title.  Maddy, Jo, Skylar, and Emma are four completely different girls who inexplicably came together as best friends.  The secrets they have from each other of course bubble to the surface, but their friendship is stronger than they even thought.  The feelings and motivations of the girls are well described and it’s hard not to care about them even if it is a little hard to believe they would be this close from just interacting at summer camp.  There are some tough issues addressed such as betrayal, sex, poverty, and divorce.