Hoorah! Ally Carter's newest Gallagher Girls book, Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover arrived in my latest order and was every bit as good as the first two. Cam and her best friend Macey (whose father is a vice presidential candidate) are kidnapped at a political event, but manage to escape due to their spy skills. When Macey returns to school, the Gallagher academy goes into red alert mode, making it hard for everyone. Cam doesn't feel safe, even though her estranged aunt is assigned to Macey's security detail, and is soon embroiled in the mystery of who wants to kidnap her friend. Or is it her friend they are after? And why is Zach hanging around during all of the intrigue? We are left hanging, which is okay, because this means that there is another book!
The fourth installment in The 39 Clues series is Beyond the Grave, by Jude Watson. This takes Amy and Dan to Egypt to follow the clues. They find a friend of their grandmother's, Hilary, and her Egyptologist grandon, who help the siblings by handing over some of the clues. The adventure and suspense are still there, and the addition of the experiences with their grandmother is quite nice. I know Jude Watson mainly for her Star Wars adaptations, but I thought that this installment was especially good.
The fifth is The Black Circle, by Patrick Carman. This time, the group is off to Russia. Dan gets to wield a gold charge card, drive a motorcycle, stay in the Grand Hotel, and replace a picture of his deceased mother and father. This series is quite cohesive, even though each book is by a different author, but there are suble differences in focus that are greatly amusing. I do appreciate how each book recaps the adventures a little, since I tend to forget just where we were. I have one reluctant reader who is just about done with Gordon Korman's Chasing the Falconers series, and this may be the next thing I try with him. Book number 6 (Jude Watson again, with In Too Deep) comes out in 49 days.
Patrick Jones' The Tear Collector is an example of an excellent book I probably won't buy, because it is more suitable for high school, not because of language or content, but more because of tone and complexity. Cassandra and her family get their energy from the tears of others, so they surround themselves with misery-- Cassandra constantly breaks up with boyfriends, volunteers at a cancer ward, and befriends a girl whose sister is dying. When the friend commits suicide and and Cassandra is interested in a boy with whom she doesn't want to break up, she starts to doubt her very existence. The cover blurb flings around the word "vampire", but this skips the horror and delves more into the psychological. Very good.