Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Battle of the Beasts

18090029Columbus, 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.

From Goodreads.com
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 dangerous lies.


  1. I tried the Baldacci, but honestly? Anyone who has to tell me that his main character is a female a half dozen times in the first 50 pages doesn't deserve my time.

  2. Bought it, but so far the two students who have tried it have returned it unfinished. Sigh....


  3. Anonymous8:26 AM EDT

    Ugh, The Finisher would lose me at "gobsmacked. Thanks for reviewing.

  4. I was looking forward to Battle of Beasts, but cliffhanger ending, ugh. I may hold off for awhile.

  5. I was looking forward to this one, but when it arrived at our library I found I couldn't get into it with a pickaxe, so I moved on.