Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Secret Grave

Ruby, Lois. The Secret Grave
June 27th 2017 by Scholastic Paperbacks
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Hannah and her large, bustling family like living in an old mansion, Nightshade, that had been briefly inhabited by ancestors, even if it makes the summers away from town seem longer and more humid. When Hannah is out in the woods, she meets the mysterious Cady, who wants to be her friend. Cady gets out and about a little, but generally wants to meet Hannah in the woods. She is also not fond of anyone who comes between her and Hannah, and starts to dress like her in an unsettling way. Hannah is even more unnerved when Cady sets off her brother Scooter's life threatening asthma on purpose, and when spooky occurrences take place back at the house. The death of one of the owners years ago seems to have led to many unresolved issues as well as a couple of threatening ghosts. When her friends return from their vacations, will they be able to help Hannah solve the mystery before life at Nightshade becomes truly dangerous?
Strengths: What this lacked in creepy moments at the beginning of the book, it made up for in friend and family drama. Scooter's sever asthma was interesting, and not something I've seen in middle grade literature, although I have many students with asthma. The older sister's desire to go to college and leave her family behind was also a nice touch. This did get creepy later on, and it was fairly apparent to me what Cady's issues were, but she was odd enough that I wasn't entirely certain.
Weaknesses: The Irish grandmother seemed odd, and as far as I can tell, there were no Studebakers manufactured in 1984. (Said grandmother is described as driving one she purchased off  eBay.)
What I really think: I need to read the descriptions on Edelweiss more closely. My students are not fond of paperbacks, and they don't hold up. Luckily, this is available from Follett in a prebound copy. Will purchase a copy.

Bernstein, Jonathan. Live Free, Spy Hard (Bridget Wilder #3)
April 11th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Bridget really tries to be more like her perfect cheerleader sister, Natalie, but it's hard when you are secretly working as a spy and occasionally have to step out without explanation to, say, save a lot of restaurant patrons from being poisoned. When Natalie is chosen to be the face of a new campaign by the president's wife, Bridget manages to save people from a mutant insect attack... but also get fire extinguisher foam all over the first lady. Jocelyn Brennan isn't pleased when (using her suspension as an excuse to her unaware parents) Bridget is assigned to impersonate the Jamie, the presidential daughter, who has been uncooperative with the campaign. Using nanomask technology and a wig, Bridget is a convincing Jamie. She is almost too convincing when she manages to slip and take a tumble just like the first daughter has done in the past. This infuriates Jamie, but Bridget manages to not only repair her reputation by staging a spontaneous dance routine at another event, but even bonds with Jamie over their love of the boy band L4E. When Jamie goes missing, Bridget is easy to blame. With the help of new annoyance Adam Pacific (and even DaleTookey), she sets out to uncover a major national scandal that involves presidential candidate Morgan Font without her parents realizing why she is gone.

Bridget irrepressibly goes from catastrophe to catastrophe, utilizing nanomarbles, deep fried Mars bars and Cheerminators to further her goals. Since Bridget has been learning spy techniques, she doesn't have to rely on the gadgets quite as much, although it never hurts to have an Uber account.

Carter Strike and Irina don't play as large a role in this volume, except that Bridget's mother remains very irritated by Irina's dashing, exotic style. Carter does save the day from time to time, and is always helpful is smoothing things over with Bridget's family. Jamie and the presidential family are an interesting addition, and adds Bridget Wilder to the list of children who are secret agents protecting the presidents' children, just like Bradford's Connor Reeves, and  Jones' Clayton Stone.

This walks the line between humorous and goofy beautifully, and should be a popular choice with both fans of Carter's Gallagher Girls and Rylander's Codename Zero.

Ms. Yingling

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