Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Kylie Galen has had a lot of crap tossed in her lap. Her parents are getting a divorce. Her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn’t put out. Her grandmother died and now Kylie’s acquired a stalker. Unfortunately, she’s the only one who seems to be able to see the stalker. And that gets her sent to a psychologist’s sofa.

The kooky psychologist gets Kylie sent to Shadow Falls Camp. Kylie and her parents think it’s a camp for troubled teens.

They thought wrong.

It’s a camp of supernaturals: vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and shape shifters. And if she believes the camp leader, Kylie is one of them, too.

Just because she’s seeing ghosts, just because she was born at midnight, does that really mean she’s not human? And if so, what is she? Not even the other supernaturals can tell her.

As Kylie attempts to cope with the realization that these creatures actually exist, and that she might even be one of them, the ever present stalker/ghost appears to have secrets that could unravel the mystery of Kylie’s identity and her destiny.

But getting a ghost to open up is as hard as getting a guy to talk about his feelings.

As Kylie struggles to find answers, two hot guys, a werewolf and a half-fairy vie for her attention. However, Kylie’s determined that before she lets her heart discover a new love, she needs to solve her indentify crisis and unearth the truth of her destiny.

I won a Born At Midnight ARC through the Library Things Early Reviewers. I really had no idea what this book was about when I got it . But I was hooked from the first page. The novel is told from the point of view of sixteen year old Kylie. She's not having a great month. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend broke up with her for the same reason boyfriends usually do -she said no, and to top it all off she's got a stalker that no one else but her can see. She's seeing a shrink, but it hasn't helped. When the police raid a party that she's at and the police find drugs and alcohol, her mother ships her off to a summer camp for troubled teens.

This is not a real camp for troubled teens. Kylie learns on the bus to camp that the kids that are "troubled" are very unique. One boy can change the color of his eyes to any color. Another girl with multi colored hair has a toad on her leg. And one very normal looking boy reminds her a lot of her ex boyfriend and she's immediately attracted to him.

Shadow Falls Camp is, she finds out for supernaturals, vampires, werewolves, faeries, shapeshifters,ghosts and anything else she can think of. Kylie doesn't believe she belongs there yet she has blood curdling screaming, night terrors and can't remember them the next morning. And her stalker she finds out is a ghost who literally gives her the chills. Apparently, no one knows what kind of supernatural Kylie is, her parents won't admit to being supernaturals or haven't told her they are supernaturals. Kylie works with the camp counselor to try to figure out if she really is a supernatural which she denies she is throughout most of the book. All the other supers can read each others brain patterns by wiggling their eyebrows (I know but it's presented better in the book) but no one can read Kylie's brain patterns and she can't read anyone else's brain patterns. If she isn't a supernatural, her other options are that she's crazy or she has a brain tumor, two not very promising options, but Kylie prefers them than to being supernatural.

During camp activities, getting to know your campmates hour, names are chosen and Derek, the boy that reminds Kylie of her ex draws her name and leads her to a magical little place near the water where they sit and talk and almost kiss. But her ex Trey is going to soccer camp just a few miles down the road and wants her to forgive him and meet him somewhere. And then there's Lucas -who used to live next door to her when she was young and killed her cat. She remembers him looking over the fence saying, "If you don't want your new kitten to suffer the same fate as your cat, bring him in at night." But this Lucas doesn't match up with the Lucas of her childhood and her memory brings back times when he saved her from bullies and walked her home from school. She has a unique experience with him on get to know your camp mate hour.

Throughout this teenage drama, lurks the FRU, Fallen Research Unit who fund the camp for supernaturals. They wear dark suits and walk around interrogating students about what we don't know until the last bit of the book but everyone is under suscipion, especially Kylie because she can't be read. Tension surmounts between the various supernaturals. Werewolves accuse vampires of crimes, and vice versa. Faeries and Witches are at odds. And FRU is constantly overheard threatening to shut down the camp.

Add in Parents Day on the weekends for some, like vampires who's parents don't know they've been turned. Or witches with pressure to pass exams. Or Kylie who's parents don't know what type of camp Shadow Falls really is. She finally learns to accept the other supernaturals, not as monsters but as friends. Her roommates are a witch and a vampire and they stand up for her when she needs them most. There is a point towards the end where I almost cried.

There isn't a dull moment in this novel. I read it fast, in one day, but it did take all day. I'm sure I'll read it again but I promised to send it on an ARC tour so I needed to get it on its way. This novel has a little of everything romance, adventure, suspense, mystery, and definitely leaves you wanting more. I sure hope C.C. Hunter writes fast because I already want the next one and this one hasn't even been released!

As far as age appropriateness goes, older teen, there is a teen pregnancy scare, talk about sex and a little bit of touching going on. Nothing below the waist!

Heather in Sandwich

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Richard Allan Shickman

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful CountryThe prehistoric saga continues in Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, the sequel to the award winning Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure. In this story, Zan s troubled twin brother, Dael, having suffered greatly during his earlier captivity, receives a ruinous new shock when his wife suddenly dies. Disturbed and traumatized, all of his manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. His obsession is the destruction of the wasp men, his first captors, who dwell in the Beautiful Country. When he, Zan-Gah, and a band of adventurers trek to their bountiful home, they find that all of the wasp people have died in war or of disease. The Beautiful Country is empty for the taking, and Zan s people, the Ba-Coro, decide to migrate and resettle there. But the Noi, Dael s cruelest enemies and former tormentors, make the same migration from their desert home, and the possibility develops of contention and war over this rich and lovely new land. (From Amazon)

As I started this novel, I was struck by the extreme sadness and madness that Zan-Gah's twin Dael suffers. Not only has he suffered two years of extreme conditions of torture and starvation that have turned this once laughing, joyous and carefree boy into a truculent, angry young man, his wife and baby die in childbirth. She was the only one that could calm him, soothe his anger, push his memories away of his time of capture.

After her death, he becomes an angry young man. Today we might have a name for his behavior. What, I'm not sure, but all he wants is war and death and when he decides to go after the Wasp people, Zan-Gah goes with him along with two other boys and Zan-Gah's wife, who has never acted like a typical woman. They do not know that their formidable uncle, Chul follows them.  They find the Wasp people all dead of disease or war and only one old woman left alive, Hurnoa.  She tries to tell what happened but she doesn't really know.  Zan-Gah urges Dael to leave her alive, she is weak and dying anyway, but his hatred is so great he kills her over night.

Because the land of the Wasp people is beautiful, food is plentiful, a lake is right there, Zan-Gah decides to put it to the elders that they should move there. They make the long and laborious trek with a few losses on the way.  When they get to the Beautiful Country, they are rewarded with the land that Zan-Gah described. But soon, camp fires appear on the other side of the lake. Dael is still unstable.  He wants to fight the Noi, the group that captured and tortured him.  He has disowned his twin and done things to make himself appear less like him.

Through all this, there are the invention of new weapons, the attempt to grow crops, the discovery of a volcano and a deep abiding love story between husband and wife.  It's also a love story between brothers and how one never gives up on the other. The story pulls you in, even if you think it won't.  Honestly, it took me a little longer to get into the story this time, but once I did, I stayed up until two am to finish it so I could find out what happened.  There is a satisfactory ending and there is definite closure.  I wouldn't mind reading more of the adventures of what goes on in the future.

Again I tried to figure out what Dael's illness was other than Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but it was more than that.  And I felt sorry for him because his anger was on the edge, always and you knew the torture he must have suffered was terrible.  I also tried to figure out what kind of illness could have wiped out the Wasp people.  They lived near a volcano and I wondered if something to do with that could have killed them, but Hurnoa never mentioned gas or a smell or ash, so I guess it wasn't the volcano.  I really enjoyed this novel.  It was compelling once I got into the story and I've left out much of the story.  I'd say anyone that can read the words can read this story.  It's a great prehistoric adventure novel and would be great to be included in middle grade libraries (6-9th).  It's a short novel, 151 pages and the writing is simple and flows easily from chapter to chapter.

I have signed copies but am willing to loan them to anyone that would like to read them.  My email is on my home page.  Email me with your address and I'll mail them out after the holidays.  I just ask that you post your review to Good Reads and let me know the link so I can let the publisher know.  I received these books from Earthshaker books for an honest review.  I was in no way compensated for my review.

Heather in Sandwich.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Zan-Gah A Prehistoric Adventure by Allan Richard Shickman

The hero, Zan-Gah seeks his lost twin in a savage prehistoric world, encountering suffering, captivity, conflict, love, and triumph. In three years, Zan-Gah passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership among his people. Themes: survival, cultures, gender roles, psychological trauma, nature's wonders and terrors. (From Amazon)

I received this novel from Earthshaker books to review.  I am not being paid to review it and my review is an honest review of the book.  That being said,  I thought this was a great story!  I don't know how realistic it was but it was easy to read broken down into small chapters and the story really was captivating.  I'm a lover of history, prehistoric history included and though I'd never really heard of anything in this story except the Mastodon, who's bones  Zan-Gah found, it was a very primitive world.

The story begins with Zan's brother having been missing for a year already and Zan feels guilty because he wandered off when the two had a fight.  Before that they had been inseparable.  But Zan can't worry about that at this point because the next day, for the first time, the five clans are getting together to hunt down a lioness who killed a child.  She has to be taken down before more children are killed.  It is an uneasy alliance between the clans who fight usually, but they've called a truce.  Out of sheer luck, Zan kills the lioness when she looks for a weak spot in the circle that is closing in around her and sees him, a young boy.  She heads for him and he holds his spear steady.  She dives right into it and kills herself.  He is named Zan-Gah, Gah being the rock where he killed her.  This is not a big part of the story. 

The majority of the story is his search for his missing brother.  They are twins and he has dreams every night that his missing brother, Dael is still alive.  He fights with his parents over it but in the end, he goes after him.  He discovers many things about the world her lives in and his enemies.  He creates a new weapon purely by accident.  He is captured by the same people that captured his brother for a time.  But his brother isn't with them any longer.  He suffers in the desert and almost dies.  But he continues his search for his brother because he loves him and believes he is not dead even when he believes he, himself is dying.

The landscape is harsh, the people are harsh.  Food is scarce, water is scarcer and you can feel the dryness of the desert, the heat on your back, the ache on your sore bare feet as you walk with Zan-Gah in search of his twin.  You can feel the joy when he finds water and food and feel his desolation when he is so thirsty that his mouth is like chalk.  You can also see the mind of a great leader forming, planning, and beginning to take over what one day will be his nation.

I totally recommend Zan-Gah to anyone, especially teachers, teaching about the hardships faced in prehistoric times.  There is violence in the book, as there would be during that time period.  I'd say fourth grade and up.  It's definitely an easy read at 148 pages so maybe some reluctant readers would enjoy it. I hesitate to allow my ten year old to read it because it's a signed copy, but if he keeps it at home, maybe. For all you librarians out there, I'd keep this one in mind.  Elementary school teachers should also keep this one in mind as well.

There is a follow up novel that I'm reading next call Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country.  I'll be reading it next.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan an Interview with my 10 yr old Jakob

After saving Olympus from the evil Titan lord, Kronos, Percy and friends have rebuilt their beloved Camp Half-Blood, where the next generation of demigods must now prepare for a chilling prophecy of their own:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.

Now, in a brand-new series from blockbuster best-selling author Rick Riordan, fans return to the world of Camp Half-Blood. Here, a new group of heroes will inherit a quest. But to survive the journey, they’ll need the help of some familiar demigods.

Since I haven't finished reading anything to review in awhile, I thought I would do a guest post.  My guest is my ten year old Jakob.  I'd try to put a picture of him up but it would probably take longer than it's worth.  So, you'll have to take my word for it that he's a cutie and he'd make a goofy face if I took a picture for the blog.

Anyway here is my interview and he as always, made it his own.

1.)What was your favorite part of the book?  Parts!!!PARTS!!!! I'd have to say, the part where Leo amazes everybody by riding on a dragon.

2.)Why do you like these books?  There are many reasons I LOVE these books because
  • Rick Riordan makes great hooks (guess what they are learning about in writing class)
  • amazing characters
  • Ever since the last series, he had HILARIOUS chapter names.  For example "I Visit Some Fishy Relatives" or  "I Get a Sneak Peak At My Death."
3.) Would you recommend this book to your friends?  Yes

4.) Do any of the old characters show up in this book?  Well yeah, but mostly just on the side of things.

5.) What is the quest this time?  The quest this time has to do with demigods and the doors of death.  Plus the New Great Prophecy.

6.) Do you think this series will be as good as the Percy Jackson series?  Yes!  I am sure Rick Riordan has outdone himself yet again.  The Son of Neptune (next book in the series) will be GREAT!

7.) Are you going to read the next book?  Yes!

8.)Who is your favorite character in this new series?  Why?  Leo!  I have always been thinking since The Last Olympian how cool it would be to find somebody as nice and funny as Beckendorff (R.I.P. Buddy).  And now there's Leo!

9.)  Anything else you want to say without giving away the ending?  Yes, I call it Character Time with Jakob-
  Annabeth- As smart as ever and surprisingly very worried about (hint: someone who likes blue, has a sword called Riptide and has defeated the Minotaur twice!)_______!

Thank you for your time Jakob and for giving us a look into the world of a ten year old mind!


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