Green, Tim. Deep Zone. (Sequel to Football Hero) ( and also sequel to Football Genius and The Big Time—Ty and Troy meet up in this one.)
Release date August 23, 2011. E-Arc received from Netgalley.com
Ty gets to be a ball boy for the Baltimor Ravens because his older brother Thane plays on the team... and both of their parents are dead. Ty’s other relatives are in a witness protection program
because they were involved with a mob gambling situation that went wrong. After Thane injures
his knee badly, Ty gets to play in a football tournament. He and Troy end up playing in the tournament and also being targeted by the buffoonish mobsters who are after them. As in the other books by Green, the wily kids manage to thwart the grownups.
Strengths: Kids eat these books up. They love football books, and for some reason, there has long been a fascination with the mob among middle school boys. Green deserves huge props for knowing this and working it into his books, as well as for the really good descriptions of football.
Weaknesses: While kids love these, I myself prefer Deuker, whose writing is a little more mature, both stylistically and thematically. Will I still have to order two copies? Yes.
MacHale, D.J. The Black. http://www.djmachale.com
In The Light, Marsh Seaver’s best friend Cooper is missing. We find out that Cooper has been killed in a boating accident, and is now in “the Black”, trying to navigate the afterlife. In Cooper’s vision of his howmetown, he meets his grandfather and a girl who lives near his grandfather’s house; Gravedigger, the doodle of Marsh’s that was brought to life in the first book; and Damon, an ancient warrior who has brought Cooper to the
Black because he is intent on world domination and thinks Cooper is somehow a key to it. Can Cooper make contact with Marsh and keep him safe? Will he be able to thwart the Watchers, help Damon, and make it out of the limbo that is The Black?
Strengths: Good, spooky book with mystery and lots of scary characters and action.
Weaknesses: The changing perceptions in the Black, along with a large cast of characters, made this a little hard to follow. I’m imagining that the third and final book in the series will be titled The Blood, since it’s mentioned several times.
Nance, Andrew. Return to Daemon Hall.
Ian Tremblin holds another horror writing contest, and this time Demarius and Wade are back as judges. Tremblin has a book that belonged to the owner of Daemon Hall, and this book transports the assembled writers back to the burnt out hall where they have to act out their stories. They all get sent back and forth through time and terrorized by the book, but then they escape. Or do they? Wade and Millie are in dire trouble at the end of the book, and their fellow writers are all ill or comatose after their run-in with Daemon Hall. I have a distinct feeling there will be a third book.
Strengths: Great scary cover, spooky stories, and a story-within-a-story format that is fresh. The first book is popular in my library.
Weaknesses: Had to pay careful attention to where and when the characters were, which is something I find difficult, but the characters had to keep on their toes as well!
Pearson, Ridley. Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play
The Overtakers, a group of Disney villains, are back, and still determined to take over Disney World, and the whole world if they can. They spend a lot of time trying to trip up the Keepers by putting them in danger on various rides. It is up to the five teens working as Kingdom Keepers to keep them at bay. The good characters come to their aid, and there are hints to sequels (rumors of 7) that will include Disneyland and Disney cruises.
Strengths: Disney has some appeal for many students, and this is certainly an action packed series. Disney has apparently even put together some sort of activity at their theme park to go along with the book!
Weaknesses: The third book of this series has been a hard sell. My students read the first book but aren’t into the sequels, which is always a difficult thing.
Bick, Ilsa J. Ashes.
Release Date September 6, 2011. E-Arc received from Netgalley.com
Alex has an inoperable brain tumor, so when she decides to quit treatment, she goes hiking in a remote part of Michigan. While there, she meets Jack and his young granddaughter Ellie. When an electromagnetic pulse kills Jack, and a lot of animals and most of the other people in the world, Ellie and Alex must work together with Tom (an army man on leave) to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where the vast majority of people have turned into flesh eating zombies. There is a sequel in the offing.
Strengths: This is plenty gory, and zombie books are popular now.
Weaknesses: The pacing seemed a little slow to me. The beginning, talking about Alex’s illness, will lose a lot of readers wanting a zombie book. This may be more of a YA title.
Wignall, K.J. Blood
Release date September 27, 2011. E-Arc received from Netgalley.com
Will is a vampire and would-be Earl. He’s been a vampire for 750 years, so he knows not to kill beautiful women for blood, he attacks homeless street people instead. He’s pale, light hurts his eyes, and he is very broodingly sexy. He also needs to find the vampire responsible for his lonely but eternal existence, and also find Lorcan Labraid, who is “the evil of the world”. Helped by Eloise, a feisty girl who cannot stay immune to Will’s musty charms, the two start their trilogy based journey to .... do vampire things. Wander around, feel lonely, drain people of blood.
Strengths: It is a vampire book. The main character is at least a male vampire.
Weaknesses: I am SO tired of vampire books, and this just didn’t have the needed oomph or originality to make it stand apart from the dozen of others.
Okay, so apparently my HUGE dislike of Twilight and similar books is working against me here—everyone else seems to love this and think it’s original: I Heart YA Books, Lily Reader, My World of Books,Great Imaginations, I Read Past My Bedtime.
Whew. Good use of my time to get caught up. Too hot to can tomatoes or scrub the kitchen floor, which is what I really should be doing!