Columbus, Chris. Battle of the Beasts (House of Secrets #2)
March 25th 2014
by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
E ARC from Netgalley.com
The Walker children are back in the Kristoff house after their adventure in House of Secrets, but all is not well. Their father is gambling away the money Eleanor wished for, school is difficult for Brendan, and Cordelia is cold all of the time and her teeth are falling out. Before you know it, they are whisked off (along with Will, who has sent some time in jail) to another adventure. It turns out that the Wind Witch was living inside Cordelia, and in trying to escape, the children end up in another Kristoff story, this time set in ancient Rome. In a panic, Eleanor wishes that the Book of Doom and Desire would disappear, not thinking that this might also trap them and the house in Rome. Brendan feels right at home and is willing to stay and train to be a gladiator, but when the Nazis attack, Will, the girls, and a gladiator named Felix set off to head them off and end up in the Himalayas. They find more books by Kristoff as well as his wife's diary, which uncovers a very big secret about the Wind Witch. They also battle cyborg Nazis. . Not willing to leave Brendan behind, Cordelia heads back to Rome to get Brendan while Eleanor stays behind to fight off the frost monsters with the monks. Eventually the three unite and try to return home through the Door of Ways, which shows each of them both a good and a terrible vision of their future. When they finally return home, the children fear that the bad versions will come true, since the family has indeed lost the Kristoff house because of their father's gambling.
Strengths: This has lots of action and adventure, and the locations to which the children travel are fun. There is a tiny bit of romance with Cordelia and Will, but it doesn't come to anything. This is great fantasy adventure for elementary and middle school students. I can think of about ten right now who will enjoy this.
Weaknesses: Cliff hanger ending is a bit annoying to me, since I weary of series, but my students will like it.
Baldacci, David. The Finisher
4 March 2014, Scholastic Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
This is a dystopian adventure for middle school and up. It weighs in at 512 pages, and Baldacci says in a preface that he's really, really pleased with it.
I'm not sure how I feel. I'm not a dystopia fan, and this had an odd tone. In the first couple of chapters, gobsmacked, gormless and one other odd Britishism were thrown in, as were made up words for time (slivers for minutes and sessions for years). Combine that with odd names like The Quag and Wugs, and this was hard going. There's also room for many, many sequels. There's more at Publisher's Weekly.
Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Doesn't help that this is the time of year when I have no money to spend but huge lists of books to buy. Makes me overly critical some times, but I can't buy every book. Interested to see what people say.
In The Finisher,
a 14-year-old girl named Vega Jane lives in a village called Wormwood
where the citizens have been told that the forest surrounding them is
full of monsters. When Vega's mentor disappears, leaving behind a secret
message, she begins to realize that Wormwood is a village built on