Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jinson Twins, Science Detectives, and the Mystery of Echo Lake by Steven L. Zeichner

Jinson Twins, Science Detectives, and the Mystery of Echo Lake by Steven Zeichner

Publisher:  CreateSpace
Publish Date:  Sept. 2, 2011
ISBN:  978-1463700805
Pages:  194

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

A quick note before we begin:  this is definitely a middle grade book.

The Jinson twins are twelve year old Debbie and Joe.  The story is told from Debbie's perspective.  The twins decide to advertise for summer jobs instead of attending camp.  They get hired by Mrs. Gray to clean her house.  Mrs. Gray finally tells them that her deceased husband, a sea-captain, left her a stash of gold coins, but she can't find it and now she might lose everything as she's out of money.

There's some helpful adults along the way, like Mr. Benjamin, who runs the recycling center.  There's also some villains: three older boys who think the twins are on their 'turf' and a guy in a blue truck who seems to stalk the twins.

The twins learn to use science and reasoning in hunting down the long-lost treasure.

It's a cute mystery story, it reminded me of the ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN stories.  Yeah, I may have dated myself a bit right there.  HA!

Aside from a few typos and grammatical errors, the book is wonderful and would be a fun summer read for the middle schoolers!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sinking Deeper: Or My Questionable (Possibly Heroic) Decision to Invent a Sea Monster by Steve Vernon

Sinking Deeper: Or My Questionable (Possibly Heroic) Decision to Invent a Sea Monster by Steve Vernon

Publisher:  Nimbus Publishing
Publish Date:  Sept. 1, 2011
ISBN:  978-1551097770
Pages:  168

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The story takes place in Deeper Harbour, a town in Nova Scotia.  For those geographically challenged, that's in Canada.

Fourteen year old Roland MacTavish lives there with his separated parents:  his dad is the police chief and his mom is the mayor.  Must make for interesting town meetings, eh?

Roland's best friends are his grandfather, Angus and Dulsie, a girl that paints tattoos on every day.  Angus is hilarious with his sayings and hi-jinks.  He's one of the best parts of the book.  Dulsie has her own style and attitude.  Roland treats her with affection tinged with embarrassment...kind of like a little sister.

When Roland finds out that his mom is moving him to a bigger town, he develops an idea to attract tourists to the dying town.  Roland is a great character.  He comes across like a fourteen year old boy - he's cocky, sarcastic, nervous...all the right things.

The plot is funny and touching.  I love that Roland wants to stay badly enough to invent a sea monster!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Books Out This Week Sept. 17 - 23, 2012

All books this week come out on Tuesday, September 18, 2102!

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

From Goodreads:  It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

 Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout

From Goodreads:  Dying sucks-- and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out.

However, she's willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't? But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not have been an accident at all, she's not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time.

 What's Left of Me (Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang

From Goodreads:  Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorn #2) by Rae Carson

From Goodreads:  Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds.

 Glass Heart (Cold Kiss #2) by Amy Garvey

From Goodreads:  Wren can do things that other people can only dream of. Make it snow on a clear, crisp day. Fly through an abandoned tunnel. Bring a paper bird to life.

Wren knows her abilities are tinged with danger—knows how easy it is to lose control—but she can't resist the intoxicating rush. And now that she has Gabriel by her side, someone who knows what she can do—what she has done—she finally feels free to be herself.

But as Wren explores the possibilities of her simmering powers, Gabriel starts pushing her away. Telling her to be careful. Telling her to stop. The more he cautions her, the more determined Wren becomes to prove that she can handle things on her own. And by the time she realizes that Gabriel may be right, it could be too late to bring him back to her side.

 Because It Is My Blood (Birthright #2) by Gabrielle Zevin

From Goodreads:  Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before.

 The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox

From Goodreads: 
Pop quiz: What would you do if you had to solve your own murder to get anywhere in death?

Maybe if I hadn't slept through my alarm, slammed into Kristin--my high school's reigning mean girl--or stepped in a puddle, destroying my mom's new suede DVF boots (which I borrowed without asking), I wouldn't have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wouldn't have been pushed in front of that arriving train. But I did, and I was.

When I came to, I was informed by a group of girls that I'm dead. And that because I died under mysterious circumstances, I can't pass straight over to the Other Side. But at least I'm not alone. Meet the Dead Girls Detective Agency: Nancy, Lorna, and Tess--not to mention Edison, the really cute if slightly hostile dead boy. Apparently, the only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed me, or I'll have to spend eternity playing Nancy Drew. Considering I was fairly invisible in life, who could hate me enough to want me dead? And what if my murderer is someone I never would have suspected?

 Ten by Gretchen McNeil

From Goodreads:  It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

 Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

From Goodreads:  Radley just wants to get home to her parents in Vermont. While she was volunteering abroad, the American People's Party took power; the new president was assassinated; and the government cracked down on citizens. Travel restrictions are worse than ever, and when her plane finally lands in New Hampshire, Radley’s parents aren’t there.

Exhausted; her phone dead; her credit cards worthless: Radley starts walking.

 Adaptation (Adaptation #1) by Malinda Lo

From Goodreads: 

Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Books Out This Week: Sept. 10 - 16, 2012

Anything but Ordinary by Lara Avery
Publish Date:  September 11, 2012

From Goodreads: Bryce remembers it like it was yesterday. The scent of chlorine. The blinding crack and flash of pain. Blood in the water.
When she wakes up in the hospital, all Bryce can think of is her disastrous Olympic diving trial. But everything is different now. Bryce still feels seventeen, so how can her little sister be seventeen, too? Life went on without her while Bryce lay in a coma for five years. Her best friend and boyfriend have just graduated from college. Her parents barely speak. And everything she once dreamed of doing--winning a gold medal, traveling the world, falling in love--seems beyond her reach.
But Bryce has changed too, in seemingly impossible ways. She knows things she shouldn't. Things that happened while she was asleep. Things that haven't even happened yet. During one luminous summer, as she comes to understand that her dreams have changed forever, Bryce learns to see life for what it truly is: extraordinary.

 Frozen Heat (Nikki Heat #4) Richard Castle
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads: NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat arrives at her latest crime scene to find an unidentified woman stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left on a Manhattan street. Nikki is in for a big shock when this new homicide connects to the unsolved murder of her own mother. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she is forced to confront unexplored areas of her mother's background.
Facing relentless danger as someone targets her for the next kill, Nikki's search will unearth painful family truths, expose a startling hidden life, and cause Nikki to reexamine her own past. Heat's passionate quest takes her and Rook from the back alleys of Manhattan to the avenues of Paris, trying to catch a ruthless killer. The question is, now that her mother's cold case has unexpectedly thawed, will Nikki Heat finally be able to solve the dark mystery that has been her demon for ten years?

 Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.
     Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.
     The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.

 Flesh and Bone (Benny Imura #3) by Jonathan Maberry
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  Reeling from the tragic events of Dust & Decay, Benny Imura and his friends plunge deep into the zombie-infested wastelands of the great Rot & Ruin. Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong journey through a fierce wilderness that was once America, searching for the jet they saw in the skies months ago. If that jet exists then humanity itself must have survived…somewhere. Finding it is their best hope for having a future and a life worth living.
But the Ruin is far more dangerous than any of them can imagine. They are hunted by fierce animals escaped from zoos and circuses. They must raid zombie-infested towns for food and medical supplies. They discover the very real truth in the old saying: In the Rot & Ruin…everything wants to kill you.
And what is happening to the zombies? Swarms of them are coming from the east, devouring everything in their paths. These zoms are different. Faster, smarter, infinitely more dangerous. Has the zombie plague mutated, or is there something far more sinister behind this new invasion of the living dead?

Beyond: A Ghost Story by Graham Mcnamee
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  Jane is not your typical teen. She and her best friend Lexi call themselves the Creep Sisters. Only Lexi knows why Jane is different from anyone else: Her own shadow seems to pull her into near-fatal accidents. Jane is determined to find out why these terrifying things happen, and to overcome her shadow enemy. Her sleuthing with Lexi connects her own horrors to the secret history of a serial killer.

 The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  On remote Rollrock Island, men go to sea to make their livings--and to catch their wives.
The witch Misskaella knows the way of drawing a girl from the heart of a seal, of luring the beauty out of the beast. And for a price a man may buy himself a lovely sea-wife. He may have and hold and keep her. And he will tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she. He will be equally ensnared. And the witch will have her true payment.
Margo Lanagan weaves an extraordinary tale of desire, despair, and transformation. With devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals characters capable of unspeakable cruelty, but also unspoken love.

 Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  Summer is the best part of the year in Winston, California, and the Fourth of July is the highlight of the season. But the perfect town Clare remembers has changed, and everyone is praying that this summer will be different from the last two—that this year's Fourth of July festival won't see one of their own vanish without a trace, leaving no leads and no suspects. The media are in a frenzy predicting a third disappearance, but the town depends on tourist dollars, so the residents of Winston are trying desperately to pretend nothing's wrong.

And they're not the only ones hiding something.

Clare, a seamstress who redesigns vintage clothing, has been blessed—or perhaps cursed—with a gift: she can see people's pasts when she touches their clothes. When she stumbles across a denim jacket that once belonged to Amanda Stavros, last year's Fourth of July victim, Clare sees her perfect town begin to come apart at the seams.

 Tilt by Ellen Hopkins
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads: Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt….

Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year—and decides to keep the baby?

Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?

Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

  Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  When Daniel Lever is dragged to Leisure World Holiday Complex for some “time away” with his depressed dad, his expectations are low. Daniel is overweight, he hates sport, and his father has brought along his beloved tomato plant. But soon Daniel spots a girl swimming in the fake lake. Lexi is elegant and smart, but very mysterious. Why are her bruises getting worse each time she and Daniel meet? And is her watch really ticking backwards? A dark figure stalks the pair, and as British summer time approaches, Daniel has to act quickly. Their souls depend on it.

 Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life.

 Fish in the Sky by Fridrik Erlings
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  Josh Stephenson’s thirteenth year starts with a baffling sequence of events. His estranged father has just sent him a taxidermied falcon for his birthday. His flirty seventeen-year-old girl cousin has moved into his house, using his bedroom as a passageway and taking bubble baths in the unlockable bathroom. And now he’s gone AWOL from school to escape the locker-room teasing about certain embarrassing anatomical changes. On top of all that, he’s in love, but wondering if dreams of love can ever come true. Hiding out in his secret hollow in a big rock by the sea, Josh tries to figure out once and for all: is his life being sucked into a black hole, or is this just being thirteen?

 Shadowfell (Shadowfell #1) by Juliet Marillier
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill—a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk—Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death—but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban’s release from Keldec’s rule.

Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.

 Sons of the 613 by Michael Rubens
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  Isaac's parents have abandoned him for a trip to Italy in the final days before his bar mitzvah. And even worse, his hotheaded older brother, Josh, has been left in charge. An undefeated wrestler, MMA fighter, and bar brawler, Josh claims to be a "Son of the 613"—a man obedient to the six hundred and thirteen commandments in the Tanakh—and he has the tattoo to prove it. When Josh declares that there is more to becoming a man than memorization, the mad "quest" begins for Isaac. From jumping off cliffs and riding motorcycles, to standing-up to school bullies and surviving the potentially fatal Final Challenge, Josh puts Isaac through a punishing gauntlet that only an older brother could dream up. But when Isaac begins to fall for Josh's girlfriend, Leslie, the challenges escalate from bad to worse in this uproarious coming-of-age comedy.

Island of Doom (Hunchback Assignments #4) by Arthur Slade
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  After previous assignments in London, the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, and the Australian rain forest, this final adventure in the Hunchback Assignments series finds our hero, shape-shifting, masked spy Modo, on his most personal quest. Along with fellow spy Octavia Milkweed, they search for Modo's biological parents. But when the Clockwork Guild find Modo's parents first, Octavia and Modo chase them across Europe and North America to the Island of Doom. Joined by memorable characters from the first three books--some lovable, and some who are terrifying and evil--Modo and Octavia dash towards a thrilling conclusion.

 Unspoken (Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan
Publish Date:  Sept. 11, 2012

From Goodreads:  Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing.