Wednesday, February 25, 2015

There Will Be Bears

Gramps is Tyson's best friend.  He's just a cool, old, tough dude, and this is the year Gramps is taking Tyson on his first hunting trip.  This is going to be the year he becomes a man...

Except everything starts going wrong.  Tyson's other best friend who is actually a kid his age named Brighton has started hanging out with the football crowd and pulling away from Tyson.  Also, he's flunking history.  And even though he is excited about going hunting, he keeps hearing stories about Sandy, a violent grizzly bear who has already killed several people this season.

But it all comes to a head when Tyson's dad says he and Gramps can't go hunting.  Gramps is sick, and he's going to have to live in a nursing home!  This is so wrong!  Gramps is strong and tough.  He shouldn't be in a nursing home.

The truth is Gramps really is sick, but he wants to take Tyson hunting, too, so he hatches a plan for the two of them to secretly go on the trip anyway.

Tyson is excited, but also really nervous.  What about Sandy?  What about a sick Gramps in the wilderness?  Read Ryan Gebhart's story of family, friendship, and bears!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Space Case

The year is 2040, and Dash and his family are part of the team on Moon Base Alpha.  They are the first humans to live on the moon.  Sounds awesome, right?

It is...except for the incredible small size of the base, the horror of rehydrated food, and the toilets that just insist on breaking.  The only other kid his age is addicted to video games, and spends all his time in the virtual world.  Life is pretty boring for a kid in space, but everything changes when Dr. Holtz dies.  Everyone insists it was an accident, but Dash believes there is something more sinister going on.

When he insists Dr. Holtz's death was murder, he's ordered to be quiet and stay in his apartment, so Dash decides to do some secret investigating on his own.  He has help from Kira, a new arrival on MBA and a normal kid he can finally talk to, and Zan Perfonic, another new arrival who knew Dr. Holtz.

Will Dash and Kira discover the truth, or will they become victims themselves?  Read Stuart Gibbs's new book to find out!  This is another great book, by a fun author.  It has all the things that make the FunJungle books except we are in space instead of at a zoo.  Highly recommended for mystery fans!

Monday, February 16, 2015


Maya was the lowest of the low on the social scale at her Brownsville, Texas, middle school.  She was a geek with glasses, braces, and only a handful of friends.  That's when she decided to embark on a social experiment.

Armed with a thrift store copy of a teenage etiquette book from the 1950's, Maya decided to see if the sixty year old advice would hold up today.  She did everything Betty Cornell, former model and author of the book suggested from changing her diet to her wardrobe with sometimes hilarious results.

But things really get crazy when Maya follows Betty's advice on making friends and meeting new people.  In her quest to get out of her comfort zone and find out what popularity really means, Maya has heartbreaking downs, some hilarious moments, and a few surprising triumphs.

Maya Van Wagenen's memoir took me back to my own middle school experiences, good and bad.  I really enjoyed reading this gem of a book about a girl with true courage and integrity.  I know I was never that brave!  Maya Van Wagenen proves the best way to become popular is to let people know you care.  Highly recommended!

Buzz Kill

When the universally disliked football coach of the Honeywell Stingers is murdered, there is no shortage of suspects.  It seems like everyone had a reason to kill Hollerin' Hank Killdare.  From the much abused members of the team to the long time assistant coach who's now been promoted to the cheerleader he humiliated in an infamous You Tube clip, everyone had a reason to hate him.  But who killed him?

Millie Ostermeyer is not usually a "joiner." She is content to read her books and skate by on the edge in her classes.  The one thing she does take seriously is writing for the school paper even if the student editor is her arch nemesis, Vivienne.  When Millie discovers Coach Killdare's body while writing what should have been a boring story about the new stadium, she thinks she should have first dibs on reporting.  Vivienne, of course, disagrees.  Things heat up when the local police seem to be focusing their investigation on the assistant coach/local mayor who just happens to be Millie's father.

Now, with so much at stake, Millie is determined to find the real killer and rescue her father from the evil editorial clutches of Vivienne and the all but useless local police.  Her investigation leads her to Chase, gorgeous, new in town and a complete mystery.  The more time she spends with Chase investigating the murder, the more she sees that there was another side to Hollerin' Hank.  She also realizes Chase is more than just a pretty face.

Will Millie discover the truth in time to save her father's career and catch the killer before he/she strikes again?  Read Beth Fantaskey's new book to find out!  This was a fun mystery with a dose of romance thrown in.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Hitch at the Fairmont

Jack's world collapses when his mother dies.  It was just the two of them, and now it feels like he is completely alone.  Then his horrible aunt shows up after the funeral to pack him up and take him away from all his friends to live with him at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

Aunt Edith is cruel and demanding, and Jack's existence is miserable.  Just a few weeks after moving in with her, she is kidnapped.  He doesn't miss his aunt, but he doesn't want to live in foster care either, so he goes looking for help to find her.

Who better to help solve a mystery than the famous movie director, Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense himself.  At first Hitchcock is reluctant to get involved, but it doesn't take long for the director to get wrapped up in the mystery and to appreciate Jack's artistic talent and quick intelligence.

There is something more going on here than a simple kidnapping, but Jack and Hitchcock will have to plunge headfirst into danger to figure it out.  With a hotel full of characters and potential suspects, it will not be an easy job.

I love Alfred Hitchcock movies, so I was excited to read Jim Averbeck's book.  What a fun read!  This book is filled with mysteries and clues.  Each chapter title is the name of one of Hitchcock's films, and each chapter begins storyboard drawings like Hitchcock used to block out his movies.  You don't have to be familiar with Hitchcock to enjoy this mystery, but that will make it more fun!  Maybe this book will get you interested in some of these classic suspense films.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Teddy Fitzroy has a big problem.  Vance Jessup may be stupid, but he is big, mean, and making Teddy's life miserable.  When Vance bullies Teddy into pulling a prank at FunJungle, the zoo where Teddy's parents work, it sets Teddy up for disaster.

He's already in trouble with large Marge, head of security at FunJungle for throwing mannequin parts in the tank at Shark Odyssey when Kazoo the koala is kidnapped.  Marge hates Teddy, and she's convinced he's the kidnapper, so she won't even follow other leads.

This leaves Teddy to investigate on his own to prove his innocence before Marge has him arrested.  J.J. McKracken, owner of FunJungle, has threatened his parents' jobs if Teddy gets involved, but he is determined to find the truth not just to save himself.  The person who stole Kazoo didn't take any food, so if the koala isn't discovered soon, he'll starve to death.

It's a race against time in this companion novel to Belly Up that puts Teddy in the thick of the investigation once again.  Maybe this time he can save the animal in question instead of investigating its murder.

Stuart Gibbs brings the same mix of sincerity, mystery, animal poop, and slapstick to Poached that I enjoyed in Belly Up.  I hope there are more books to come in this series!

The Boundless

Will has always wanted an adventure of his own.  His father has had plenty starting with laying track across the Canadian wilderness to saving a railroad baron's life and being promoted to head of the company.  Will's fortunes change with his father's, but he wants an adventure of his own.  Little does he know he's about to have the ride of his life!

The track is laid, the engine is complete, and The Boundless is about to make its first trip across the Canadian frontier pulling miles of passengers, cargo, foreign settlers, and the great Zirkus Dante.  Will's journey begins in a private first class carriage, but when he sees a girl he knew from years ago performing with Zirkus Dante, he sets off to find her on the train.  This decision leads to his discovery that murderous thieves are plotting on the train, and in his attempt to escape the murderer, he nearly misses the train and has to work his way from the caboose to the front while avoiding conspirators.

Will goes undercover with the Zirkus, which is an adventure in itself, but Canada is a wild and mysterious place filled with sasquatches, witches, and deadly avalanches.  It will take all his wits and courage to make it back to the front of the train to warn his father and save the passengers.

Kenneth Oppel's new book is a thrilling adventure ride mixing historical fiction with fantasy and suspense.  It's a must read for thrill seekers.