I’ve been hearing about this book, so I was excited when my student Avis M gave me a copy of I Hunt Killers for my classroom library. I devoured it in one weekend and handed it off to my co-teacher, who also devoured it quickly. Barry Lyga has created a thrilling page turner that will be a hit with fans of television shows like Criminal Minds. This book trailer shows you what it’s all about:
The best news? There’s a second book, Game, due out next spring.
It’s October and time for a ghost story. Banesville has ghosts stories running on the front page of the newspaper, but Hildy Biddle, high school journalist, is determined to reveal the truth behind the sinister messages left on the porch of the old Ludlow place. Can she and the rest of the staff of the Core uncover the truth behind the swirling rumors and growing fear spread by the local paper, The Bee?
Joan Bauer has filled Peeled (Scholastic 2008) with quirky characters who take on challenges with courage and humor. I love Hildy Biddle. Actually, I wish I could have been her when I was a high school journalist. She is not content with covering just the typical school events, she wants to be a force for truth and have the Core taken seriously. She has to balance her journalistic ambitions with sch0ol, her family’s orchard business, grief over her father’s death, and a possible romance with Zach, her partner in fighting evil. She is helped by her friends (and even ex-boyfriends) as well as the crusty Polton Baker. Minska, who lived through the Solidarity uprising in Poland, offers a safe haven and inspiration to the journalists who must go underground with their news.
There are sleazy bad guys, too. Pen Piedmont, owner and editor of The Bee, thrives on sensationalism. When Hildy and her friends threaten to unmask the ghost stories, he sues the school to shut down their paper. Guys in suits from out of town show up to buy up struggling apple orchards. When the orchard owners don’t want to sell for their low offering price, things start to turn ugly.
It is up to Hildy to uncover the truth before it is too late.
I think I have read my favorite John Feinstein book yet. Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics uncovers yet another sporting scandal. This time Stevie is on his own (well, Tamara and Bobby from the Washington Post and Herald are with him) to figure out what the sleaze bags are up to this time. This time, Susan Carol is the athlete, competing at the Olympics in the 100 and 200 butterfly.
Susan Carol swam out of nowhere to become the “It-girl” of the London Olympics. Her father has signed contracts with agents who promise millions–if Susan Carol can make the Olympic team and win a gold medal. Now her life is spinning out of control in a swarm of media and sponsors. Will she be able just to swim and hang out with Stevie? Will Stevie uncover the scandal before it’s too late?
I found myself out of breath reading all the way through this one. The swimming races were exciting and down to the wire. The agents and various others were complete sleazeballs. And as always, I enjoyed seeing behind the scenes of one of the biggest sporting events of all. It will probably be the closest I ever get to an Olympic game. I have a few more past mysteries to catch up on, and I am looking forward to Stevie and Susan Carol’s next adventure.
I listened to Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake with a free download from Sync YA. I thoroughly enjoyed this romantic ghost story. The nearer I got to the end, the more I found myself looking for mindless chores to do so I could keep listening! The only downside to listening is I didn’t have an easy way to mark the words and sentences that sang in my ear. This is one audio that I will want to go back and read just to savor the language.
Cas is not your typical teenager. Ever since his father was killed, he has taken on the family mission of sending on murderous ghosts with a slice of his athame. His story opens with his “kill” of a murderous hitchhiker along a country road in my home state of North Carolina. The real story, though, doesn’t begin until Cas and his kitchen-witch mother move to Canada to track down a ghost known as Anna Dressed in Blood. Anna Korlov is stronger and angrier than any other ghost Cas has encountered. He also finds himself strangely drawn to Anna, wanting to defend her rather than kill her. Woven through his current quest is the mystery of what killed his father. Cas is determined to learn all he can before traveling back to Baton Rouge to avenge his father’s death at the hands of some evil spirit if it doesn’t get him first. For the first time, Cas is not able to take down a ghost on his own. He must draw on all his past resources as well as reach out to new friends, who make a very unlikely alliance.
Anna is one spooky girl. She is dressed in a simple white dress that drips with her own blood. For the past fifty years, she has killed anyone who crossed the threshold into her house. She just doesn’t kill them. She rips them limb from limb. Despite her violence, she spares Cas and struggles against the rage that gives her strength. Thomas, a witch-in-training who is a social outcast at school, appears to be weak, but surprises himself with his courage and loyalty. Carmel may be the prom queen with the student body in her back pocket, but she finds herself drawn in and drawn to the mystery of Anna, even when her friends are ripped apart.
Not only are there blood and guts aplenty in this ghost story, there are also quirky characters and snarky humor.
I picked up Bullet Point (HarperTeen 2010) by Peter Abrahams expecting a sports story with a twist of mystery. There wasn’t much sports since the baseball program at Wyatt’s school is cut for lack of funds. The parting gift from his coach is a picture of the father at age 16. His resemblance to Wyatt is uncanny. Wyatt transfers to another school, hoping to play baseball, but only one transfer is allowed. His best friend Dub beats him to fill the spot, but offers a place to live with Aunt Hildy in Silver City until he can establish residency.
Even though Wyatt loses baseball, he finds more than he can handle in Silver City. First is Greer, a hot, older girl. Greer and Wyatt have something in common–their fathers are in the same prison just outside Silver City. Greer’s father is in for arson, Wyatt’s father for murder. Wyatt questions if his father is guilty or took the fall for someone else. He follows the mercurial Greer on a quest to learn the truth. It just might be the biggest mistake he’s ever made as events spiral out of control.
I first read Peter Abraham’s Echo Falls series (Down the Rabbit Hole and Behind the Curtain) and loved Ingrid. Bullet Point is much grittier and edgier. It’s every bit as well-written, but much darker. Just as in life, there are no easy endings, and actions have consequences.
Stevie and Susan Carol are at it again. This time their nose for news is about to uncover a scandal at the Army-Navy football game. If you haven’t met them before, Stevie and Susan Carol are teen sports reporters. Since winning a writing contest as 8th graders, they have been working with two seasoned reporters, Bobby Kelleher and Tamara Mearns, ever since. They have covered some of the biggest events in sports (the Super Bowl, the Final Four) and uncovered some of the biggest scandals. Now they are back again in The Rivalry: Mystery at the Army-Navy Game (Yearling 2010).
This time around, Stevie and Susan Carol split up (not their relationship, just news coverage) to report on the traditions and competition with “America’s Game,” the annual football game between Army and Navy. Stevie heads to West Point while Susan Carol travels to Annapolis. The trouble begins when Susan Carol expresses her frustration with the lousy officiating at the Navy-Notre Dame game. The same officials are scheduled to work the Army-Navy game, too. Is it just bad calls, or is something more sinister going on? In addition to interviewing players and coaches, they also get to know the Secret Service since the President traditionally performs the coin toss to start the game. When it comes to the President, the Secret Service doesn’t mess around.
It is probably a bit atypical for two teens to uncover so much trouble. I certainly hope there aren’t scandals underlying every major sporting event like Stevie and Susan Carol find. Even so, I enjoy each of John Feinstein’s stories involving these two teen reporters. I love the behind-the-scenes looks at the big events, especially the long-standing traditions with the Army-Navy game. I love how hard Stevie and Susan Carol work to uncover the truth and back it up before printing. They know the power of words and don’t take it lightly.
This action-packed mystery has a little bit of everything: a very cold murder case, four very smart teens, one very cute puppy, and some DNA-altering viruses. What could possible go wrong for Tory Brennan and her friends? To start with, someone is trying to kill them.
Tory has just moved to tiny Morris Island to live with the father she never knew after her mother’s death. She is content to hang out and explore the islands with the other science geeks–all children of the scientists who work at the research station. They band together to rescue a wolfdog puppy from a secret research lab when they become infected with a rare strain of canine parvovirus that worms its way into their DNA. Now they are not just friends, but they are united as a pack. They call themselves the VIRALS and struggle to control their new super-senses and reflexes. Can they outsmart the killer of a teen forty years ago before he turns his sights on them?
I found this story to be a real page-turner. It opens with the four teens dodging bullets as they flee through the brush and doesn’t let up until the last page. I saw some of the pieces come together, but I was still surprised by a few twists at the end. At times I found the first person narration a little abrupt, but it fits the voice of Tory Brennan well. This girl is all about action. Even though she is the newcomer to the island, she is quick to take the lead, especially in plotting the less than legal activities.
After reading this one, I’m definitely off to the library to read some more Temperance Brennan (she is Tory’s aunt, after all) novels or off to the couch to watch some episodes of Bones. Fans of both will enjoy Virals by Kathy Reichs. And yes, there is already a sequel, Seizure, involving pirates and sunken treasure.
Are you looking for a spooky ghost story? I wish I had read The Crossroads by Crhis Grabenstein in time for Halloween! I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up, and kept looking over my shoulder.
Zach Jennings is headed home–to his father’s childhood home that is with is hard-working dad, new step mom Judy, and new dog Zipper. Things should be looking up, but the crossroads near his new house is haunted. Strange things happen by the old oak tree on the corner. Tree branches drop through windshields or take the the blinking light. Every Monday, grouchy Ms. Greta Spratling drives up in her big old Cadillac to place fresh white roses in a pail nailed to the trunk of the tree. Just what is she up to?
Zach meets his first friend, Davy, who talks a little on the strange side, but has swell ideas for building a tree house and dealing with the local bully. For some reason, he has chosen Zach to complete a task. Can Zach figure out what to do before it’s too late? Will his stepmom Judy believe his tall tales?
Actually, Judy is one of my favorite characters. There is no evil stepmother here. Judy is funny if somewhat clueless in the art of cooking and mothering. She is the one who helps Zach put to rest the ghost of his dead mother–not one of the ghosts of the crosroads, but she haunts Zach’s thoughts, none-the-less. Besides, she is a writer…and is helped in solving the mystery by none other than the local librarian!
And what about the ghosts? There are quite a few haunting this deserted crossroads. Most of them are the friendly, helpful sort. But there’s one who’s out to kill…and he has Zach squarely in his sights.