Book Review: Fear


R.L. Stine presents Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror

These thirteen tales of horror, mystery, and suspense are a perfect read for this Halloween season. Each is a twisted story from creepy creations to serial killers. Written for young adults, none are too graphic but have plenty of thrills and chills. Generally, I’m not a fan of short stories and anthologies. But these are easy reading and plenty of fun. Below is a short description of each story by each author:

R.L. Stine’s “Welcome to the Club” – A boy is pressured to join a club by killing his mean boss.
Heather Graham’s “She’s Different Tonight” – A cruel boy messes with the wrong girl on Halloween.
Suzanne Weyn’s “Suckers” – On a distant planet, humans keep disappearing.
Jennifer Allison’s “The Perfects” – The Perfect’s children are a babysitter’s worst nightmare.
Heather Brewer’s “Shadow Children” – A portal leads to another realm where shadow versions can replace human children.
Peg Kehret’s “The Poison Ring” – The theft of a poison ring sends a girl on a trail of deception and danger.
Alane Ferguson’s “Dragonfly Eyes” – A school shooter takes two girls hostage; and one will die.
Ryan Brown’s “Jeepers Peepers” – A young boy’s worst fears come true.
F. Paul Wilson’s “Piney Power” – A mysterious community enacts their own brand of justice on trespassers.
Meg Cabot’s “The Night Hunter” – Even heroes need a little help once in a while.
Walter Sorrells’ “Tuition” – A boy pulls one more theft to pay for his college education.
James Rollins’ “Tagger” – A young girl’s ability to paint her family symbol has sent an evil presence after her.
Tim Maleeny’s “Ray Gun” – A boy gets the chance to be the hero he’s always wanted to be.

Book Review: Mockingjay


Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen has been rescued by District 13 and is the face of the rebellion against the Capitol. But President Snow has Peeta and will use every tactic he can to destroy Katniss’ will and destroy the rebellion. And Katniss isn’t safe even within the new government of District 13. The president of District 13 feels threatened by Katniss and her popularity. Once again, Katniss faces insurmountable danger. But the effects of this war will be on the global scale.

This is the third and final book in Collins’ fantastic trilogy. Her post-apocalyptic world is bleak yet stirring. Her storytelling is completely engrossing and impossible to put down. Usually, I can’t get into books written in present tense. But not only do I not mind her writing style, but after a while I don’t even notice that it’s present tense. As before, the adventure is non-stop suspense and drama. Ending in a climactic showdown with several surprises along the way, readers will be satisfied with the conclusion. I wasn’t left wanting. It’s a whirlwind of hope, despair, grief, and triumph. A story of epic proportions, I can’t recommend this trilogy enough.

Book Review: The Mermaid’s Mirror

The Mermaid’s Mirror

The Mermaid’s Mirror, by L.K. Madigan

Lena wants nothing more than to learn to surf for her 16th birthday. But her father has always forbidden Lena since he almost died in a surfing accident years ago. Or so Lena was told. Lena has been having strange dreams and finds herself sleepwalking to the ocean. And when she glimpses what looks like a mermaid off the nearby beach, Lena becomes obsessed with surfing and searching for an item that she can’t even name.

Lena seems like a typical teenager with a boyfriend and best friend and keeping things from her parents. There is absolutely no chemistry with her boyfriend Kai; and he only comes across as annoying and immature. It’s easy to feel Lena’s awkwardness at feeling more comfortable as friends. But Lena is incredibly sweet to her younger brother. It’s immediately obvious why Lena is pulled to the ocean and what the secret is that her parents are hiding from her. But Madigan still manages to infuse suspense as we follow Lena’s path to discovery.

The underwater imagery and world of the Mer-folk is the highlight of the novel, yet Lena’s time there is short in comparison. Lena is pulled between two different worlds, and not completely at home in either. Teenage girls should enjoy this young adult fantasy. With plenty of teenage angst and romance, this coming of age story has heart. Though to be honest, I wasn’t happy with the ending, and I doubt many other would be. It seemed abrupt and unfinished. I hope the story continues. It’s a beautifully told tale, with a promising start.

Book Review: Thieves of Darkness

Thieves of Darkness

Thieves of Darkness, by Richard Doetsch

Michael St. Pierre is a semi-retired thief, and now spends his time as a security consultant. But when Michael’s girlfriend and an old friend are arrested for theft, they are sentenced to execution the next morning. And Michael must once again utilize his skills at breaking and entering to break them out of an incredibly secure prison. But breaking out of prison, is just the first step in a global adventure and race to find a hidden treasure before deadly enemies find it first.

Even though the story revolves around two thieves with hearts of gold – Michael and his girlfriend, KC – all the major characters are given quick backgrounds, and as a result, depth and motivation. Strong characters paired with an exciting plot, made for a highly enjoyable read.

This is the third adventure for Michael St. Pierre, but it is not necessary to read the previous installments first. This was a fantastic stand-alone adventure. With non-stop action and suspense, this mystery is all but impossible to put down. There are slight elements of romance and the supernatural. But Michael and his friend’s skill sets and surprising twists are what I love most about this high-octane thriller. I certainly hope there is more to come in this series.

Book Review: Enchanted Ivy

Enchanted Ivy

Enchanted Ivy, by Sarah Beth Durst

It is Lily Carter’s dream to attend Princeton University, as her parents and grandfather did. When she arrives for a reunion weekend with her grandfather and mother, she is surprised when she is told about a secret test to find the Ivy Key. If she passes this mysterious test, she will automatically be accepted into the school. But Lily soon discovers that there is more to the prestigious university than meets the eye. It harbors magical creatures and a doorway to another world.

Lily is a sympathetic character, who cares for her mentally disturbed mother with endless patience. There are a couple young men on campus that catch her eye, and add a small element of romance. But Durst’s world-building dominates the story with incredible imagery, creativity, and fascinating characters.

I read her last novel, Ice, and loved it. So, I had high expectations this time around. This young adult fantasy was just as good, if not better. I was captivated from the beginning, and could not let go till the end. This dramatic story is full of suspense, mystery, and more than a few surprising twists. Completely spellbinding – I can’t recommend this one enough. Fantasy fans of all ages will enjoy this charming tale.

Enchanted Ivy releases on October 12, 2010 from Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Book Review: Black Hole Sun

Black Hole Sun

Black Hole Sun, by David Macinnis Gill

Durango is an 8-year-old (16 in Earth years) living on Mars and working as a mercenary. His latest mission is to protect a group of miners from a group of cannibals called the Dræu. With help from Mimi (his former chief and the artificial intelligence that resides in his brain), Vienne his subordinate, and a ragtag team of other mercenaries, the group faces a deadly enemy. But the miners are hiding a secret and the real reason the Dræu have been attacking.

Durango acts older than his age, having been thrust into authority and orphaned as a child. The dialog between Durango and Mimi is cleverly written and always entertaining. Gill’s setting on Mars is unique and inspired. Human colonists from Earth have settled on the harsh planet, making it their own. But it seems Mars has its own native life as well.

This fast-paced science fiction romp for teens is just as enjoyable for adults. It’s an action-packed adventure with plenty of suspense and chills. I was thoroughly impressed with the surprising twists to the story that left me wanting more. With young adult fantasy so popular right now, it was refreshing to read such a solid science fiction novel geared towards teens. An engaging story with fantastic characters on a desolate planet – it doesn’t get much better than this.

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