Thursday, May 27, 2010
Jaime Bell: The 24 year-old Brit and presumed front-runner is probably best known to American audiences for his childhood effort as the title character in the 2000 film Billy Elliot. ("Donce, Billy, DONCE!!!") However, after later establishing himself in roles in Peter Jackson's King Kong, Flags of Our Fathers, Jumper, and Defiance, he's landed himself a starring role in the upcoming Steven Spielberg project The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. So, once Tintin hits on December 2011, Bell could realistically emerge as a bankable star, which would make his casting a wise investment right now.
Alden Ehrenreich: Being present at a fateful batmitzvah of a friend's of Steven Spielberg's daughter led to the 20 year-old's discovery in the biz. Since then, he's had appearances on Supernatural and CSI, with a big move up in the film Tetro for Francis Ford Coppola. Still a relative unknown, landing this role would be a career-maker. While going with such an unknown would not be completely outrageous, the question remains whether this is something Sony is willing to do with the stakes so high.
Andrew Garfield: Though born in Los Angeles, the 27 year-old moved to the UK as a child where he made a name for himself on British television such as Sugar Rush and the Red RidingThe Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, he's set to possibly turn some heads in the upcoming film The Social Network, where he will play Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. While he does bring experience to the table, his age may be something working against him. If the film reboot decides to start with Peter Parker in High School, then Garfield will be nearly 30 year-old by the time the film would presumably get released. That doesn't make for much staying power if the sequels are to be released in 2-3 year intervals. TV Movie series. After appearing in
Frank Dillane: The 19 year-old Brit is probably best (and only) known for his role in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, playing the younger version of Tom Riddle/Voldemort. In fact, besides a role in 1997's Welcome to Sarajevo at age six, it's the only work on his resume. To have gotten this far in the process means that there may be some clear potential that director Marc Webb sees in him. However, it would be the biggest gamble of the whole bunch.
Josh Hutcherson: He's the other dark horse in this race. Besides being the youngest at 17, he's ironically the most seasoned of the bunch. His film resume essentially reads like a list of just about every family-friendly action/sci-fi film released in the last five years. From films like the Jon Favreau-directed Zathrura, to the surprisingly depressing Bridge to Terabithia, and the Brendan Fraser vehicle which tried to bring back 3D before Avatar, Journey to the Center of the Earth, he's just about seen and done it all at his young age. His resume only continues to grow with a sequel to Journey and a role in the remake of Red Dawn. Adding Spider-Man to that long list would officially cement him as a star.
So who do you think should play the new Spidey? Vote! The poll is on the sidebar.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The Agency 1: A Spy in the House
by Y.S. Lee
pub: March 2010/Candlewick
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test.
Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there?
Mary gets her first assignment to infiltrate a household as a bratty rich girl’s companion and find out what nefarious deeds the girl’s father is up to in his business dealings. The writing is very good and captures the Victorian setting well – customs, dress, language, mannerisms and certainly the class structure.
First Lines: She should have been listening to the judge. Instead Mary’s attention was focused on the flies swarming around her ankles in the prisoner’s dock and their primary interest: the pool of stale urine at her feet. It wasn’t hers.
Bottom Line: An engaging cozy mystery with a smart female lead, good twists, thick with the Victorian Era setting, and heavy on girl-power.
The Agency 2: The Body in the Tower comes out August 2010. You can READ AN EXCERPT HERE.
Mary’s second adventure as an undercover agent forces her to relive some harrowing childhood experiences as she seeks the identity of a murderer.
Mary Quinn is back, now a trusted member of the Agency, the allfemale detective unit operating out of Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. Her new assignment sends her into the grimy underbelly of Victorian London dressed as a poor boy, evoking her own childhood memories of fear, hunger, and constant want. As she insinuates herself into the confidence of several persons of interest, she encounters others in desperate situations and struggles to make a difference without exposing —or losing —her identity. Mary’s adventure, which takes place on the building site of the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament.
Friday, May 21, 2010
by Steve Feasey
Pub: April, 2010/Feiwel and Friends
Teen Fiction/Urban Fantasy
Fourteen-year-old Trey Laporte is not a kid anymore. Not after the day he wakes up in agony—retina-splitting, vomit-inducing agony. His clothes are torn. His room is trashed.
Enter Lucien Charron, the mysterious, long-lost “uncle” with freakish fire-flecked eyes and skin that blisters in the sun. Suddenly, Trey finds himself living in a luxury penthouse at the heart of a strange and sinister empire built on the powers of the Netherworld—vampires, demons, sorcerers, and djinn.
And there is a girl—Alexa Charron—who is half vampire, half human, and insanely pretty, with powers all of her own. Trey is falling for her.
Trey is training night and day to control the newly discovered power lurking inside him. Now, demons are closing in on every side, and the most psychopathic bloodsucker to rock the Netherworld wants to destroy him. Above all, he must face one terrifying question:
Is he a boy . . . or is he a beast?
This is one of those good news/bad news situations. Wereling is well written with complex characters, imaginative creatures and vivid description. On the other hand, it was slow and lacked action and suspense.
The first 70 to 100 pages sets up the story and that was just too long for me. His uncle has a lot of explaining to do and he takes his time about it. Our hero doesn't even change into a werewolf until half-way through the book.
By the time we find out the big bad guy's dastardly plan I was kind of like "Okay..." There was no build-up, no suspense.
The same problem occurred when they went to his hideout. The bad guy gives them the location of the hideout, they know it's a trap, and we get the old B-Horror Movie trick of building you up....and then nothing happens. Yikes, what could be behind the door? Cue scary music...Oh, nothing's behind the door. Yikes, what's behind that other door? Cue scary music...Oh, nothing again.
Okay, eventually there was something behind the door (metaphor for potential scary moment) but by the time we got to the door that had something frightening, I shrugged a "Whatever" and moved on.
For more on the plus side, Trey and Alexa's romance is cute, although doesn't go anywhere...yet - did I mention the set-up book idea? - the vampire "uncle" (he's really an old friend of Trey's parents) mentoring his werewolf "nephew" was a clever twist, and the monsters are intriguing.
Another great bit is the Demoncylopedia: A Guide to the Netherworld and Its Creatures at the end of the book. It has fascinating history and description of the various creatures and even a blurb on Flora and Fauna of the Netherworld. Very clever and engaging
The Cover: I like it. He looks creepy. You've got the moon in the clouds thing going on and the capitalization of WERE in Wereling is a nice touch. The UK cover is good too - a bit darker and more of a comic book feel.
First Lines: Trey Laporte opened his eyes, wincing against the assault of the late-morning sunshine on his retinas. Sitting up in bed, he clutched his hands to his head as a mortar shell of pain exploded inside his brain.
Bottom Line: Wereling didn't deliver as much action and thrills that I was looking for but for those who aren't as needy in that area, the premise, writing and characters are solid.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Thirteen Days to Midnight
by Patrick Carman
pub: April/2010/Little Brown
Teen Fiction/Urban Fantasy
Summary: When Jacob’s foster father whispers, “You are indestructible” seconds before dying in a car crash that should’ve killed them both, Jacob never imagines he could possess a real superpower. To test it Jacob and his friends start indulging comic book-like fantasies. Later, they commit to use this amazing power of indestructibility to do good in the world and save others from death. But how do they decide who to save? And what happens when they blur the lines of life and death, right and wrong, and good and evil? Thirteen Days to Midnight is a nail-biting tale of dark intrigue, powerful romance, friendship and adventure.
Here’s what happened… Jacob Fielding receives a gift/curse from his foster dad just before their car crashes into a tree. Mr. Fielding, the dad, dies but Jacob lives because Fielding utters the words "You are indestructible" and passes on his own power of indestructibility to Jacob.
Jacob didn’t know anything about this and he’s coming to terms with the power. Jacob and his best buddy Milo have a great relationship and then Ophelia (call her Oh – I had a real problem with that nickname, or the spelling. Everytime I read I’d have to remember it was her name and not an explanation of some sort). Oh (see what I mean?) shows up while Jacob’s off school and she and Milo have become friendly.
She and Jacob have an instant connection and the three of them start hanging out. Jacob signs her arm cast (from a skateboarding accident) and uses the last words Mr. Fielding said to him, “You are indestructible.” Later, when daredevil Oh takes a super nasty spill off her skateboard, she’s unscathed.
A little freaked out, Jacob says, “I am indestructible,” and now the power that he had unwittingly given to Oh is back with him. Soon the kids figure out that Jacob can give and get back the power to people just by saying or thinking the words.
They all become obsessed with using it and it gets them into some serious trouble. Jacob and Milo decide it may not be such a good thing but Oh goes a little bonkers with the power. She wants it all the time and we watch her her lively good-natured self spiral downward and disappear beneath a power hungry angry girl overcome with thoughts of death.
The rest of the story unfolds as Jacob and Milo unravel the puzzle of where the gift comes from and how it works in order to control it and save their friend. They make some smart decisions and try to do what’s best.
Thirteen Days to Midnight kept me thoroughly engaged. I liked the characters, the original premise and the pace built to a dramatic climax. This “superpower” book was different in that it explored the darker (and realistic) side of having the power – especially when it’s given to teenagers – even well-meaning ones.
I highly recommend it, but it isn’t a fun read. Well, it’s fun to start out but then the realities and consequences of the power become twisted. The novel is dark but also thought provoking (without getting preachy) as you start to question the idea of playing God and making life and death decisions. This would make a good book club choice for the discussions that it could provoke.
It touches on death and even suicide but I think it handles both well. There’s no sex (a few kisses) and very minimal swearing.
The Cover: I like it. Ominous, mysterious and foreboding.
First Lines: Jacob Fielding stood in a small room and stared at a body. It was a dead body, someone he could have saved but chose not to. Jacob had let the person die because, in his view, it was the right thing to do.
I thought these were great. I’m ready to get into this story!
Bottom Line: Again, I wouldn’t say it’s ‘fun’ but worthwhile? Intriguing? Powerful? Absolutely. It’s a story that will stay with you.
Patrick Carman’s new book, Trackkers looks good too.
In the 21st century landscape of bits and bytes, everyone leaves a digital footprint ... even the most advanced cyber criminals. And that’s where the Trackers come in. Four tech-savvy kids armed with high-tech video cameras and esoteric coding skills, the Trackers can find almost anyone, anywhere. Told through a collage of videos, text, and websites, Trackers #1 follows Adam, Finn, Lewis, and Emily as they become entangled in a high-tech, high-stakes game of cat and mouse with Shantorian, the world’s most dangerous hacker. At least, that’s who they think they’re tracking....
As the four dig deeper into the shadowy world of online crime, they soon learn that things aren’t always as they seem.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
by Simon Holt
pub: June 2009/Little Brown
Teen Fiction/Horror/Urban Fantasy
When Reggie finds an old journal and reads about the Vours, supernatural creatures who feast on fear and attack on the eve of the winter solstice, she assumes they are just the musings of some lunatic author. But soon, they become a terrifying reality when she begins to suspect that her timid younger brother might be one of their victims. Risking her life and her sanity, Reggie enters a living nightmare to save the people she loves. Can she devour own her fears before they devour her?
I wasn't sure what to expect. The cover grabbed my attention. The summary sounded interesting so I gave it a whirl.
Glad I did!
The Devouring is a terrific horror novel without being over-the-top gross. The writing is great so when the gore is described, it's graphic. But I don't like to be super grossed out and while I went "Ew!" a few times, I was happy to "devour" this novel! (Sorry, couldn't help it. Can I ever?)
Here's the skinny. Reggie is a fourteen-year-old girl living in Podunk Town Nowhere. Reggie, her eight-year-old brother, Henry, and their dad trying are to deal with the recent loss of their mom/wife who just up and left. Reggie has taken on the mom role for Henry and she loves her brother but isn't thrilled about all the responsibility.
She's a big horror buff - movies, books, etc - and when she finds this old diary in the bookstore where she works, Reggie and her best friend Aaron decide to try the magic it describes. So on "Sorry Night" they try to conquer their fears (Aaron - water/drowning, Reggie - spiders) and conjure up the Vours.
Big whoops here, because what ends up happening is that a Vour possesses little bro Henry. Now Henry has become this lunatic deadly psycho messing physically and mentally with Reggie and Aaron, as well as killing beloved pets and old fragile folk. Reggie and Aaron put two and two together and get a super creeped out four. To save Henry, Reggie and Aaron have to unravel the puzzle, conquer their fears and outsmart the diabolical Vours.
I loved that Reggie was a smart, courageous heroine. How about Aaron? A clever and solid BFF. Theirs is a true friendship and they make intelligent choices. Holt did an excellent job with their behavior and reactions.
I really liked this one! It's creative, unique and inventive. If you like Stephen King's stuff, The Devouring is your kind of book. I'm not a big horror fan but I enjoy strong intelligent characters, fast plot, nail-biting action, good writing and an intriguing premise - The Devouring has all those things. It's sinister, it's creepy, it's gruesome, it's ghoulish, it's macabre...it's FUN!
The Cover: Creeps me out - she looks scary - and I love it.
First Lines: On Sorry Night, just a few days before Christmas, you have to snuff the lamps, douse the flames in the fireplace, and spend the night in the cold and dark. If you don't, the Vours will get you.
The sequel, Soulstice, is available now.
It's been six months since Reggie first discovered and fought against the Vours, malicious and demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on the eve of the Winter Solstice. The Vours still haunt Reggie, but only in her dreams-until one night, when an unexpected visitor turns her nightmares into reality.
The battle against evil continues in Soulstice, the second book in the thrilling The Devouring series, which School Library Journal called, "Comparable to books by R. L. Stine and Stephen King....A must-have for horror fans."
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Here's the Teen Fiction we're waiting for...
Dana Hathaway doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, Dana decides she’s had it with being her mother’s keeper, so she packs her bags and heads to stay with her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl—she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie. Soon, she finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone wants something from her, even her newfound friends and family. Suddenly, life with her alcoholic mom doesn't sound half bad, and Dana would do anything to escape Avalon and get back home. Too bad both her friends and her enemies alike are determined not to let her go . . .
A sickly mom. A tiny house trailer. High school bullies and snarky drama queens. Bad-guy dudes with charming smiles. Allie has problems. And then there's that whole thing about fulfilling a magical prophecy and saving the world from evil. Geez. Welcome to the sad, funny, sometimes-scary world of fifteen-year-old Allie Emerson, who's struggling to keep her and her mom's act together in the small-town world of Peacock Flats, Washington. An electrical zap from a TV antenna sets off Allie's weird psychic powers.
The next thing she knows she's being visited by a hippy-dippy guardian angel, and then her mysterious neighbor, the town "witch," gives her an incredible moonstone pendant that has powers only a good-hearted "Star Seeker" is meant to command. "Who, me?" is Allie's first reaction. But as sinister events begin to unfold, Allie realizes she's got a destiny to live up to. If she can just survive everyday life, in the meantime.
Raised by Wolves
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two. But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs. But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?
Monday, May 10, 2010
by Arthur Slade
Pub: Sept 2009/Wendy Lamb Books
The Hunchback Assignments is a creative twist on the Quasimodo hunchback story that had me reading until the wee hours.
The tale begins with Modo as a toddler and one of the attractions in a traveling freak show. After seeing the child's amazing shape-shifting ablities, Modo is saved by the mysterious Mr. Socrates, who raises him in seclusion and trains him as a first-class secret agent for the Parliament Association.
Cool, right? Modo is adept at math, science, languages, etc. He's a clever kid although lonely and also devastated by his deformed appearance.
At fourteen he's set upon the streets of Victorian London and is soon investigating the mysterious disappearances of several street children. In his sleuthing, Modo relies on his amazing shape-shifting abilities. While his natural appearance isn't pretty, he can transform/mirror any other person. He's also like a Victoria era free runner because he travels over London's rooftops with ease.
Modo learns that the Clockwork Guild has set in motion a malicious plot against the government, just as a evil scientist is creating a monstrous army of altered children to further the goals of the Guild.
To protect the empire, Modo teams up with another agent, Octavia Milkweed, for an assignment that takes them from the tower of London to a frightening world deep beneath the city, that includes traipsing through the city's sewers.
The setting is a creepy Victorian London but with a dystopian twist because of the cool gadgets. Modo is lovable. He's this smart guy and adept super spy but he also has many insecurities, and while his feelings for Octavia grow you keep rooting for him to succeed in saving the world and finding love.
The Cover: A winner! The cloaked figure on the roofs of London, the gears and symbols - and the blue gives it a dangerous, eerie feel. It's what prompted me to pick this one up.
The First Lines: The large carriage rattled with grotesqueries - bones of cats and pigs strung up as wind chimes, bleached bear skulls dangling from wires, and three shrunken monkey heads mounted on posts. Their glass eyes stared out at the approaching winter. Bells that hung from reins tinkled, warning away wandering spirits. Four horses pulled the carriage, hip bones protruding from their bedraggled flesh, hides scarred by thousands of whippings. Huddled behind them in a thick, warm coat and muffler was a grizzled old man.
Upon reaching the site, Modo and Octavia's ship is rammed, and Modo is plunged into the icy sea... and disappears from sight. As he faces certain death, Modo is saved by a most unlikely underwater rescuer and discovers the mechanical truth behind the attacks. But the Clockwork Guild closes in. How will he get back to the surface?
Sunday, May 9, 2010
genuine heartfelt wishes for a
Happy Mother’s Day
to all the beautiful ladies that make life
better for their lucky children.
Hope your day is filled with lots of
Love and Joy!
From three kids who know what a
great mom is!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
by Alexandra Bracken
pub: March 2010/Egmont
Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. north needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country - and join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home.
But North has secrets - about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?
Brightly Woven weaves a delicious, exciting adventure with characters that hook you from the start.
Sydelle is a clever heroine who gets taken care of as well as cares for others. Bracken does a nice job of balancing her out. At times she’s the damsel in distress, but at others she takes charge and saves her man, or the kingdom. She has a keen intelligence, and desire to learn and she puts both to good use.
Wayland is endearing, exuding strength and determination to do the right thing and overcome his demons, and at times he’s just plain funny. He's an appealing love interest who takes care of Sydelle but also sees her strength and lets her run the show when the need arises. She mends his magical cloaks, cares for him when he isn’t physically able, has a better sense of direction, and starts making his potions and elixirs.
While the “hate you” soon turns into “like and respect you” and then grows into “love you,” theirs is always a wonderful partnership. I loved the way the relationship developed. It was cute and managed to exude sexy without being overly steamy.
But the romance didn’t overtake the story which at it’s heart is a great adventure as Sydelle and Wayland travel a perilous path in order to fulfill their quest and keep the kingdom from a devastating war. Danger, intrigue, dastardly foes, betrayal, conflict at every turn, magical curses and surprise twists keep the plot moving along at an exciting pace.
Magically enchanting, great secondary characters, a delightful romance – it’s creative and imaginative. The excellent writing flows beautifully providing vivid description that brings the world alive without being overly written and bogged down with boring details.
A couple of negatives would be that her parents just give her up to some strange guy. It all turns out okay but they don’t know that he isn’t some serial killing pervert when they bid her farewell. And while Sydelle is upset at first, later on she seems to have forgotten what jerks they were and wants to visit her ‘wonderful’ folks. There’s also this thing with the queen completely betraying her and then once again, Sydelle seems to forget that the woman threw her to the wolves and they’re all chummy.
But these were minor problems in a story that engaged me from the start. No sex or language and mild violence makes this a wonderful novel for older and younger teens. I’m not usually into straight fantasy but I found Brightly Woven to be a captivating read.
The Cover: The girl’s face looks a bit odd to me but I love the rest of it with the lightning and natural elements.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Eron De Marchelle isn't supposed to feel a connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce human charges to sleep. While he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn't encouraged to--after all, getting too involved in one human's life would prevent him helping his other charges get their needed rest.
But he can't deny that he feels something for Julia. Julia, with her fiery red hair and her sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. Eron has always felt protective of Julia . . . but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can't seem to reach her . . .
Sandmen are forbidden from communicating with humans outside their dreams. But will Eron be willing to risk everything for a chance to be with the person he loves?
With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret.
At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. . .until the night when his best friends try to kill him.
Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity. Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one: a world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead.
But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he’s next on the menu. As if starting high school isn't hard enough. . .now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended. How in the world is he supposed to do that?
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Here's what you do...
- Grab your current read
- flip to a random page
- select 2 sentences from anywhere on the page
- try not to include any SPOILERS!
- make sure you tell the name of book and the author so we can add the book to our TBR pile!
"And here I thought you swooned at the sight of me." He gave me a crooked smile.
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Connor climbs over the center divider, and finds himself in the path of a Cadillac that's not stopping for anything.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
His fist were now balled tightly, and small droplets of blood escaped them as the emerging talons bit deep into the fleshy palms beneath
Wereling by Steve Feasey