Monday, July 21, 2008

House of Dark Shadows/ Watcher in the Woods

Titles: House of Dark Shadows/ Watcher in the Woods
Author: Robert Liparulo
Publication Date: May 6, 2008

Amazon Link
My Copy: Won through a book giveaway on Book Lover
My opinion: 3/5

Product Details:
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595544941
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595544940

Product Description:
When the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films . . . but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land.

But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into--as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house.

They soon discover there's something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school.

Then the really weird stuff kicks in: they find a hidden hallway with portals leading off to far-off places--in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen's dream come true . . . or his worst nightmare.

My Review: These are suspenseful/thriller/fantasy books for young adults. I zipped through the first one in three hours, and quickly picked up the next. Now I somewhat wished I had waited until the third book comes out in January, because a lot of questions are raised and not enough are answered. And there are actually parts of the book that are a bit frightful/thrilling, which is rare to find in a young adult novel. But not too frightening, its still PG. This is also a Christian-based novel which I only noticed because of the Thomas Nelson publisher label. I thought, hmmm. But the spirituality is definitely not in your face, and something tells me that the philosophical point of view will be more prevalent later in the series. I actually haven't read a young adult Christian novel since Frank Peretti's archeology series came out years ago. Most of them tend not to be fantasy-based, so this one was a rare treat, and actually written quite well. If this tale has a moral, it would mostly be about how secrets and lies in families can greatly damage the family dynamic. Also, as a person who only had a sister, the interactions between the brothers, as well as their characters, came across as interesting and likeable. I think a person could easily identify with these characters and the reasoning behind their actions.

Here's the first chapter of Watcher in the Woods:

It's May 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)


Robert Liparulo is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Here are some of his titles:

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Book 1)

Comes a Horseman



Product Details

List Price: $14.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595544968
ISBN-13: 978-1595544964



At twelve years old, David King was too young to die. At least he thought so.

But try telling that to the people shooting at him.

He had no idea where he was. When he had stepped through the portal, smoke immediately blinded him. An explosion had thrown rocks and who-knew-what into his face. It shook the floor and knocked him off his feet. Now he was on his hands and knees on a hardwood floor. Glass and splinters dug into his palms. Somewhere, all kinds of guns were firing. Bullets zinged overhead, thunking into walls—bits of flying plaster stung his cheeks.

Okay, so he wasn’t sure the bullets were meant for him. The guns seemed both near and far. But in the end, if he were hit, did it matter whether the shooters meant to get him or he’d had the dumb luck to stumble into the middle of a firefight? He’d be just as dead.

The smoke cleared a bit. Sunlight poured in from a school-bus-sized hole in the ceiling. Not just the ceiling—David could see attic rafters and the jagged and burning edges of the roof. Way above was a blue sky, soft white clouds.

He was in a bedroom. A dresser lay on the floor. In front of him was a bed. He gripped the mattress and pushed himself up.

A wall exploded into a shower of plaster, rocks, and dust. He flew back. Air burst from his lungs, and he crumpled again to the floor. He gulped for breath, but nothing came. The stench of fire—burning wood and rock, something dank and putrid—swirled into his nostrils on the thick, gray smoke. The taste of cement coated his tongue. Finally, oxygen reached his lungs, and he pulled it in with loud gasps, like a swimmer saved from drowning. He coughed out the smoke and dust. He stood, finding his balance, clearing his head, wavering until he reached out to steady himself.

A hole in the floor appeared to be trying to eat the bed. It was listing like a sinking ship, the far corner up in the air, the corner nearest David canted down into the hole. Flames had found the blankets and were spreading fast.

Outside, machine-gun fire erupted.

David jumped.

He stumbled toward an outside wall. It had crumbled, forming a rough V-shaped hole from where the ceiling used to be nearly to the floor. Bent rebar jutted out of the plaster every few feet.

More gunfire, another explosion. The floor shook.

Beyond the walls of the bedroom, the rumble of an engine and a rhythmic, metallic click-click-click-click-click tightened his stomach. He recognized the sound from a dozen war movies: a tank. It was rolling closer, getting louder.

He reached the wall and dropped to his knees. He peered out onto the dirt and cobblestone streets of a small village. Every house and building was at least partially destroyed, ravaged by bombs and bullets. The streets were littered with chunks of wall, roof tiles, even furniture that had spilled out through the ruptured buildings.

David’s eyes fell on an object in the street. His panting breath froze in his throat. He slapped his palm over his mouth, either to stifle a scream or to keep himself from throwing up. It was a body, mutilated almost beyond recognition. It lay on its back, screaming up to heaven. Male or female, adult or child, David didn’t know, and it didn’t matter. That it was human and damaged was enough to crush his heart. His eyes shot away from the sight, only to spot another body. This one was not as broken, but was no less horrible. It was a young woman. She was lying on her stomach, head turned with an expression of surprised disbelief and pointing her lifeless eyes directly at David.

He spun around and sat on the floor. He pushed his knuckles into each eye socket, squeegeeing out the wetness. He swallowed, willing his nausea to pass.

His older brother, Xander, said that he had puked when he first saw a dead body. That had been only two days ago—in the Colosseum. David didn’t know where the portal he had stepped through had taken him. Certainly not to a gladiator fight in Rome.

He squinted toward the other side of the room, toward the shadowy corner where he had stepped into . . . wherever this was . . . whenever it was. Nothing there now. No portal. No passage home. Just a wall.

He heard rifle shots and a scream.

Click-click-click-click-click . . . the tank was still approaching.

What had he done? He thought he could be a hero, and now he was about to get shot or blown up or . . . something that amounted to the same thing: Dead.

Dad had been right. They weren’t ready. They should have made a plan.


David rose into a crouch and turned toward the crumbled wall.

I’m here now, he thought. I gotta know what I’m dealing with, right? Okay then. I can do this.

He popped up from his hiding place to look out onto the street. Down the road to his right, the tank was coming into town over a bridge. Bullets sparked against its steel skin. Soldiers huddled behind it, keeping close as it moved forward. In turn, they would scurry out to the side, fire a rifle or machine gun, and step back quickly. Their targets were to David’s left, which meant he was smack between them.


At that moment, he’d have given anything to redo the past hour. He closed his eyes. Had it really only been an hour? An hour to go from his front porch to here?

In this house, stranger things had happened. . . .

Friday, July 11, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Why this blog exists

*This is a brand new blog so please be patient as I put it altogether. Check back soon for lots of book reviews. If you have a book you want me to review or giveaway, please contact me.

I read quite voraciously - around 250 "chapter" books a year, so throw in a couple of thousand picture books from childhood and being a librarian, and I've estimated I have read about 9000 books.
I specifically enjoy the new Young Adult fiction genre, as well as mysteries, suspense, and fantasy. I want to share my love of reading through this website. I have created two other blogs - one on reviews and one on my research.
Click on the links below in each genre to find out my thoughts about that book.

Young Adult:

Christian Authors:

Informational Reading:

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Title: The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publication Date: April 29, 2008
Amazon Link

Copy owned: Advanced Reading Copy
My opinion: 3.5/5

Product Details:
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805076689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805076684

Product Description:
Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson's vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication.

My Review: This is a beautifully written book. There are a few one page chapters that are written like free-form poetry. This is a story that delves into the ethics of how far science can or should go. If I was a young adult, it would probably impact my thinking greatly, especially if I was not as familiar with this type of ethical situation. This is the type of book that stays with you, that helps form your future opinions about the subject matter. This novel takes place in the future, and one of the dilemmas it addresses is the overuse of antibiotics, a cause that is near and dear to my heart. I have always believed that the superbugs that the overuse of antibiotics causes is a dangerous situation that the world now faces. But that is a minor issue in this book that is filled with contemplative writing with the young girl's point of view clearly conveyed across the page. It is written in first person, and is written in such a way that you can really feel for this character, which is something I greatly appreciate.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pendragon: Book Nine Raven Rise

Title: Raven Rise, book 9
Author: DJ MacHale
Publication: May 2008
Amazon Link

My copy: Hardback bought thru Amazon
My opinion: 4/5

Product Details:
  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (May 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416914188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416914181
Product Description:
This is where it begins. The showdown for Halla. At stake is nothing less than all that ever was and all that will be.

There's only one thing missing--Bobby Pendragon.

While Bobby remains trapped on Ibara, the battle moves to his home territory: Second Earth. Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde are left on their own to defend Second Earth agsinst the forces of Saint Dane. They must face off against a charismatic cult leader who has risen to power by revealing a shattering truth to the people of Earth: They are not alone.

The Convergence has broken down the walls. The territories are on a collision course. The final phase of Saint Dane's quest to rule Halla is under way.

And Bobby Pendragon is nowhere to be found.

My Review: I love this series of books by DJ MacHale. Read this one in 7 hours straight - couldn't put it down. Each book in this series contains a fantastic adventure as well as the thoughts and contemplations of the book's main hero Bobby Pendragon. I've been eagerly awaiting this particular adventure because the cliff-hanger in the last book was a real hum-dinger and I really wanted to know what happened next. This style of book is often referred to as a boy's adventure book as if girls could only be interested in American Girls or Anne of Green Gables. I've always greatly enjoyed an adventure story, and I, and many other girls, do not mind that the main character is a boy. As is evidenced by Harry Potter, that doesn't matter to most girls. In fact, I often enjoy discovering a boy's point of view about things and how he thinks about the world at large and what is happening to him in the stories. This series though does have a strong girl character named Courtney who also has quite a few adventures of her own. The overall philosophical theme is free will vs. control - democracy vs. communism. In fact, I haven't read a better overall explanation of this theme since Terry Goodkind's The Naked Empire. That book though of course is bettter suited towards adult tastes, while this one is perfect for the teenage mind. I believe though that this series of books is not strictly for teenagers, it is for anyone who loves a good fantasy adventure story.
My only problem with these books is that he will often switch from Mark and Courtney's adventures to Bobby's adventures for a few chapters. So what often happens is that I skip ahead, read most of Bobby's adventures, then skip back and read Mark and Courtney's. The chapters are just too edge of the seat exciting to actually wait to find out what happens. Sorry DJ.