Monday, May 03, 2010

More Horror, Etc.

Harvey, Alyxandra. Hearts at Stake.
Another vampire book, but this was not bad; it will certainly circulate well! Solange is the first female vampire who has been born rather than made in 900 years. Because of this, she has a vast number of suitors approaching her family now that she is almost 16. There are also vampire hunters about, one of them very attractive, and a lot of vampire politics that cause problems. Solange's best friend, Lucy, is human but very understanding (since Solange's family has stereotypical "good"vampire eating habits) and also oddly attracted to Solange's brother, Nick. Although this does have elements of many other recent vampire books, it is a fresh and engaging tale. The Drake Chronicles #2, Blood Feud, comes out in June, and I will definitely have copies of both ready when school starts. The only question is-- do I buy two copies of each?

Stewart, Paul and Chris Ridell. Legion of the Dead. (Barnaby Grimes #3)
I do wish that I had known about The Edge Chronicles by these two authors while the first in the series were still in print, because I have greatly enjoyed Barnaby. In this installment, Barnaby ends up in a bad part of town just in time for the funeral of a gang leader. Returning to this area later with his friend Professor Pinkerton-Barnes to investigate suspicious activity in the water, he passes by the graveyard where the leader is interred and hears the ominous jangling of a grave bell, and is shocked to see the mutilated corpse of the leader emerge from the ground. Since he was attacked by a venomous serpent in the water, Barnaby thinks that he was hallucinating, until he reads the news that the body of the gang leader has been stolen from the grave. As with the other adventures, the answer to the supernatural activity lies with ancient artifacts from exotic cultures. I’m not quite sure why I enjoy these so much; gruesome descriptions of rotting corpses are not usually to my liking, but there is something irrepressible about Barnaby and the light-hearted way he tackles all of these bizarre and inexplicable adventures. The language is also delightful and the vocabulary rich. My students have been a bit leery of these at first, but once they pick one up, they enjoy them.I ordered this one without reading it, but didn't know that the fourth book, Phantom of Blood Alley comes out on May 11, or I would have ordered that one, too.

Morris, Paula. Ruined. Rebecca is sent to live with a tarot card reading family friend in post-Katrina New Orleans from New York when her father is sent to China. She tries her best to fit in with the students at the private school she attends, but they are cliquish, and she is warned against mixing with them. Drawn to a local cemetery, Rebecca meets Lisette, who is a ghost who presumably died of yellow fever. It turns out that this is not the case, and that the students at the school are descendants of the Bowmans, who caused Lisette’s death. To make matters worse, there is a curse that causes the girls in this family to die before they are 17, and they can tell that the end is near when they can see Lisette. Why is Rebecca part of this? This was a very atmospheric tale that included a lot of interesting history of social mores in New Orleans. Girls who liked Bad Girls Don’t Die and other creepy ghost stories will like this one.

Leck, James. The Adventures of Jack Lime.
This book was an odd amalgam of Encyclopedia Brown meets Film Noir. Jack is a hard-boiled high school student who has decided to solve crimes to help win him popularity. Three are covered here—a missing bike, an academic scandal, and a missing student. Unlike Encyclopedia, the answers are addressed in the story itself instead of in answers provided in the back. The length of this volume (126 pages) would make it suitable for younger students, and there’s nothing wrong with the content, but I’m not sure that ten-year-olds really get the Film Noir type patter. (Case in point: Colfer’s Half Moon Investigations, which has been a slow mover.) Just not sure about this one, even though there is always a need for mysteries.

Krieg, Jim. Griff Carver, Hallway Patrol.
ARC provided by the publisher. Griff was a well-known safety patrol officer who got kicked out of his previous school after an unfortunate incident; he quickly tries to get into the patrol at his new school, but the leader is suspicious of Griff’s motives. There’s plenty of goofiness, hallway chases, and general boy antics. Add one hostile principal and underhanded middle school politicians, and it’s hard enough for Griff to survive, much less blend in with his new classmates. This will be HUGELY popular with the boys, but I had another I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil moment and could not get past the fact that middle schools no longer have Safety Patrols. No hall monitors, not kids in sashes playing in traffic, nothing. We also do not have student elections at my school, and both of these things play a huge part in this book. This might be more successful with elementary students who don’t know yet that middle school will not afford them unlimited access to roaming the halls, although my son, who is in 8th grade, ran off with this one and chuckled over it for quite some time. This is exactly why we don't let students be hall monitors!

And no, there is no discernable reason why I am willing to believe that Victorian era corpses can rise from the grave but I can’t take the leap that middle school students would be allowed to be hall monitors.

Just for fun: O.W.L. Books has a great post by Kay Cassidy on the characters in other books who would be friends with her main character! I am not the only one who thinks this way! I haven't read The Cinderella Society yet, but now am dying to. I wonder if Frankie Landau-Banks would also like to be part of this group? I thought that she and Cammie from I'd Tell You I Love You... would be great friends. Whether or not I like a book is so dependent on whether I like the character, and looking at this list of Ms. Cassidy's characters friends makes me think I will like her book, too.


  1. Ha, I KNEW there must be someone else who didn't think hardboiled knock-offs appeal to little kids. Seriously, how many adults get this, let alone kids? I kinda skimmed the vampire one and didn't really get why it was supposed to be funny, but my teens mainly like swoony vampires anyways so...

  2. RUINED looks very good--and I loved HEARTS AT STAKE. I couldn't put it down!!