Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Little Taste of Poison by R. J. Anderson

After failing to expose Eryx of murder, Isaveth and Esmond—aka Quiz—are living an uneasy existence away from each another. However, the owner of Glow-Mor changes everything when he gives Isaveth a scholarship to attend the socially elite Tarreton College. Soon after starting, Isaveth reunites with Esmond and they renew their search for clues against Eryx. Their leads show Eryx’s is keeping any incriminating documents inside his magically protected car. Under the cover of a masquerade ball at Eryx’s home, Isaveth and Esmond try to get to the evidence.

This sequel to A Pocket Full of Murder is another satisfying read full of suspense, sorcery, and scandal. But aside from the fiction, there are several real-life issues Anderson addresses: bullying, religious persecution, and economic class. Even though Isaveth can attend Tarreton College—something no person of her class or religion has ever done before—it doesn’t mean anyone there will automatically accept her. Once she arrives, Isaveth’s rich classmates immediately resent her intelligence and mock her religion and social status. In many cases, she is alone in facing this persecution because Esmond isn’t always around to protect her. However, a new friend, Eulalie, comes to Isaveth’s aid. Knowing she has loyal friends to support her, Isaveth courageously takes on all the bullies in her life, including Eryx.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Crown of Three: The Lost Realm by J. D. Rinehart

Escaping the zombie plagued Idilliam, Gulph finds a shaky sanctuary in the lost underground realm of Celestis. Meanwhile, the wizard, Melchior, arrives at the Trident camp and takes Tarlan on a journey to rejuvenate his wizarding powers. Once Tarlan leaves, Elodie’s adopted father, Lord Vicerin, attacks the Trident troops but Elodie pretends to turn on her soldiers to spare their lives. When Elodie returns with Vicerin, his true intentions are revealed.

More suspenseful adventures unfold as the royal Toronia triplets attempt to claim their prophesied birthright. But many insurmountable obstacles lie in their path to the throne: a zombie father, an undead army, a psychopathic adopted father, an unfeeling underground realm, and even more invading forces. However, as the problems get harder, the triplets’ inner powers get sharper. Gulph learns he can become invisible. Tarlan hones his skill to speak and gather animals. And Elodie’s gift of summoning ghosts may save her and her friends from Vicerin’s evil plans. What would have aided this series is a map showcasing the travels and locations of the triplets. This visual aid would have helped readers keep track of the triplets’ movements and better understand the distances they traveled while facing their different challenges.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Truth About Fragile Things by Regina Sirois

High school junior, Megan Riddick, thrives while acting on the stage, but shuns the attention of the real world. Her dislike for reality started when Bryon Exby lost his life to save a two-year-old Megan. All Megan and her family want to do is bury this secret and move on. But life is blown apart when Charlotte, Bryon’s daughter, moves into town. Charlotte stalks Megan until the two finally meet. Noting that Megan is not a threat, Charlotte admits that Bryon left an unfinished bucket list and she needs help completing it. Megan agrees and she reluctantly enlists her nosy, best friend, Phillip.

The Truth About Fragile Things is an emotional story riding on the wishes of a dead hero. Megan doesn’t know whether she has been worthy enough to be saved by Bryon Exby. So she plays her part being a dedicated student, faithful friend, loving daughter, and close sister. Playing these roles can be exhausting, so she hides away from life’s stage to renew her “happy face” until she can deal with it again. When Charlotte comes around, Megan’s reality mask cracks for all the world to see. Megan hastily attempts to paste over these cracks by subduing Charlotte’s needs. But as the process to live out Bryon’s wishes continues, Megan finds her true, radiant self and the courage to show it. A thought-provoking teen read for ages thirteen and up.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Pyramid Hunters: The Iron Tomb by Peter Vegas

Sam Force is dreading his yearly Cairo vacation with his Egyptologist uncle, Jasper. Upon his arrival, Sam learns Jasper is wanted by the police. Escaping the authorities himself, Sam uses his wits and three new mysterious friends to search for Jasper. Following coded clues left by Jasper, Sam learns about the Panehesy: a buried merchant ship that carried an ancient-Egyptian treasure. All along his way, Sam is threatened by a “Short-Haired Man” who also wants Jasper.

Vegas’s series is a modern “Indiana Jones” tale for middle-schoolers. Sam is an orphan who has lived most of his life at a boarding school. His only break are his trips to see Jasper. Unfortunately, these vacations are full of boring museums visits and long lectures about ancient Egypt. But when Jasper vanishes, Sam must recall the ancient Egyptian knowledge Jasper had been teaching him so he can decode Jasper’s messages. Of course, Sam can’t recall everything, but his new friend Mary becomes a valuable resource in more ways than one. The mythical basis of Vegas’s story is a little discombobulated and too hastily explained near end. However, Sam’s adventure of finding Jasper is very well crafted and incredibly suspenseful. The next book, called Pyramid Hunters: Bones of the Sun God, comes out in August.