Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Boy X

This book was previously published in Great Britain with a different cover.  I like this one better.

Ash's father just died in a terrible accident and now it is just Ash and his mom.  His mom's job is kind of boring - medical research, blah, blah, blah - at least that's what Ash thinks.

That is, until the day he wakes up in a medical facility on an island in Central America.  Ash can tell he is different pretty quickly - faster reflexes, improved hearing but he doesn't know why.  What he quickly learns is that his mom has been involved in a potential chemical virus or antidote and that there are people who will do anything to get their hands on it, including killing people at the medical facility and infecting others with the virus.  Now Ash has 24 hours to stop the thieves and get back with the cure to save his mom.  

But who can Ash trust and even more importantly, what is happening to him?

High suspense and lots of action.  Some double cross activity that may be hard for some readers to follow.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Goldfish Boy

Matthew has been struggling with some obsessive behaviors ever since his mom lost baby Callum just before he was due to be born.  You see, he thinks it was his fault.  He was sick right before the the incident and well, it must have been his germs that caused it.  Til recently he has been able to keep the hand washing, etc to himself but it's gotten worse.  Now he is refusing to go to school, wears plastic gloves, and won't touch anyone.  

Interestingly enough, due to his confinement in his room, he is the last one to see Teddy, the toddler staying next door, before he disappeared.  Can Matthew's observations from his room help him solve the case?  Can he find the courage to get the help he needs?

Overall it was the mystery of the book that made it rise to the top.  I was skeptical of the parents being oblivious for so long.  Then I was angry especially with the dad (who eventually came around).  But the disappearance of Teddy and the investigation and Matthew's internal struggle was the meat of the book.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Doll's Eye

Hadley is not happy with her new life - new stepfather, stepbrother, house in the country.  She wishes that things could go back to the way they were, wishes she knew her real father.  Shortly after arriving at the house Hadley finds a mysterious dollhouse with 3 dolls and a glass eye.  Weird things start happening - she meets the old lady who lives about the garage and this lady makes new dolls for the dollhouse that look just like her family.  The old dolls disappear.  Then, while holding the eye, Hadley rashly wishes that her stepfather and stepbrother were not around and that her real father was - and she gets that wish.  But wishes have a way of coming true in unexpected ways and Hadley is not pleased with the results.

Intermingled with this story is the back story of the original family that lived in the house and the bargain that girl made with a kobold.  

I liked the book - very creepy but in the last 20 pages or so it turned sour for me.  The original girl's bargain was a bit gruesome and the ending was unexpected and unsatisfying.  Maybe a sequel???  Kids will probably love it... me not so much.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Jack and the Geniuses: At the Bottom of the World

Science and mystery meet in the first book in a new series by Bill Nye, the science guy.  Jack, Ava, and Matt are 3 orphans who have been in the system for a long time but due to Ava and Matt's genius status and relationship with Jack the 3 have managed to liberate themselves from the system and are on their own.  When they become curious about a nearby skyscraper they meet and become employed by Hank Witherspoon an inventor.  Soon Hank invites them to the Antarctic to meet a fellow inventor and to help him judge a contest.  When they arrive though the other inventor is missing.  Can Jack and the geniuses find out where she went and survive at the bottom of the world.

So, this wasn't bad but it was pretty unrealistic - from them living alone to them being able to go to the Antarctic and then the risks they took while there.  Kids probably won't mind.  There were some good science bits of course with explanations at the end.  

The Pants Project

Although Liv hasn't really told anyone yet, she believes that she may be Transgender.  What is making everything more difficult is the fact that at her new school all girls are required to wear skirts.  Liv is so uncomfortable.  In her first few weeks at the new school she encounters bullying about her two moms, her haircut, and she loses her best friend.  Can Liv figure out how to get out of wearing skirts and reveal her true feelings?

This was a pretty decent book about a person trying to figure things out both personally and in light of other middle school "drama".  There were good moments of friendship and revelation.

The Booth Brothers

This book investigated the relationship between the 3 Booth brothers - Julius, Edwin, and John and the events leading up to and beyond the Lincoln assassination.  I thought it was interesting because we don't often hear about the 2 other brothers and how they reacted to the events.  The book was well done without being too long.  I think for a younger students just getting interested in the topic it would be a good entry level book.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Artie Conan Doyle...

I wanted to like this more than I did.  Perhaps I am still holding a grudge from 8th or 9th grade English when I had to read The Hound of the Baskervilles in what I considered the "low group" instead of The Scarlet Letter.  I was not a fan or The Hound and have never read another Sherlock Holmes book.  With a young Artie Doyle and his friend Ham trying to solve a mystery I thought I would enjoy it more but it just took too long to really get going.  I liked the last 1/3 of the book but I am not sure kids will stick around that long.