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Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper

Title: Demons of the Ocean

Author: Justin Somper

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company, 2006 (published in the UK by Simon & Schuster in 2005)

ISBN: 978-0-316-01444-1

Reading Level: Age 12 & up, Lexile 710

Genre:  Fantasy, Adventure

Series:  Vampirates, 1

Plot Summary:  When 14 year-old twins Connor and Grace lose their father, they set out on his ship to make a life on their own.   When a deadly storm ravages their ship, Connor wakes up on a pirate boat and Grace on a mysterious ship whose inhabitants are a bit unusual.  Connor goes about the business of learning the pirate trade and how to fight.  Grace, the thinker, tries to unravel the mystery behind the ship that saved her and its enigmatic captain.  See, they’d grown up being sung a sea shanty about dangerous Vampirates, but little did they know there was any truth to this tune.  Bound by their twin connection, neither is willing to believe that the other is dead and both do whatever they can to be reunited.  This is an adventure frought with peril, the undead, and the high-seas.

Review:   Demons of the Ocean is fun action-filled adventure that combines two favorites characters, vampires and pirates!  This story has something for readers of all ages and interests.  It is a fast-paced read and the characters of Grace and Connor are both believable and likeable.  Twins, with a great love for their father and the sea, torn apart by a storm, set out on their own adventures ultimately with the goal to be reunited.   Somper creates a vivid world of sword-fighting and high-seas adventure on a pirate ship combined with the mysterious, dangerous, and slightly romantic world of the vampirate ship.   Although the twins are reunited, many questions are left unanswered which will leave the reader begging for the next installment in this action-packed fantasy adventure series.

If you liked this book you may like: The Pirate Curse by Kai Meyer, The Floating Island by Elizabeth Haydon; Nick of Time by Ted Bell

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends, 2012

ISBN: 978-0312641894

Age Level: Age 12 & up

Genre:  Fairytale, Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Series:  Lunar Chronicles, 1

Plot Summary: In a plague ridden world, humans and androids live side by side in New Beijing.  The Lunar people are watching from space, waiting to make their move.  Cinder, a cyborg  knows little about her past except that her family was killed and she miraculously survived.  She works as a skilled mechanic living with her adoptive “evil” mother and her two sisters.  Little does she know her life is about to change when the charming Prince Kai walks into her shop in need of a mechanic.   Due to a chain of events started by this visit, Cinder and Prince Kai’s lives are now linked and the fate of the earth and the people may rest on her shoulders.

Review: This is fantastic spin on a classic fairytale rather than taking the urban fantasy route of many retold fairytales, Meyer went with a sci-fi/dystopian theme.  The story keeps some fun nuggets of the Cinderella fairytale such as an ill-fitting prosthetic foot, an old orange car, and of course, Cinder not being allowed to go the prince’s ball.   The writing is clever and Meyer does a great job of painting a visual image of this dystopian, plague-ridden earth.  The theme of the Lunar people waiting to invade may be a little over the top but that will remain to be seen in the next installments of this series.  For those readers that love retold fairytales, dystopian, or fun adventures this series debut is sure to be a hit.

If you liked this book you may like: Tankborn by Karen Sandler; Bound by Donna Jo Napoli; Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Cinder book trailer

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The Abduction by John Grisham

Title:  The Abduction

Author:  John Grisham

Publisher:  Dutton Juvenile, 2011

ISBN:  978-0525425571

Age Level:  Age 9 & up, Lexile 830

Genre: Mystery

Series: Theodore Boone, 2

Plot Summary: In this second installment in the Theodore Boone series, 13 year-old Theo must use his wit and courage to save his friend.  April, his best friend mysteriously disappears from her bedroom one evening and the whole town believes she has been abducted.  Theo knew how scared she was to be home alone and can’t believe she would have runaway of her own accord without telling him.   While the police are stuck on one suspect, Theo starts investigating on his own. Using his investigative and legal skills as well as his personal knowledge of his best friend, Theo is able to piece together the mystery to save his best friend.

Review:  For young mystery fans,The Abductionwill most likely be a hit.  This is a fast-paced read that offers suspense and action in a genre lacking depth for many of today’s young readers.  While the story feels a little contrived and predictable in parts, Theodore Boone is a likeable character and Grisham does a great job at character descriptions.  Although Theo’s parents give him a lot of leeway, there is a convincing amount of parental supervision and discipline in this story adding to the realism.   While the first book of the series may offer some background information, this book can be read as a stand-alone.  A great read for young mystery fans and reluctant readers.

If you liked this book you may like:  The Case of the Left-Handed Lady by Nancy Springer and Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

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The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title:  The Lightning Thief

Author: Rick Riordan

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children, 2005

ISBN:  978-0786856299

Age Level: Age 12 & up

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Adventure

Awards/Honors: Wyoming Paintbrush Award, 2008-2009; Kirkus Starred Review

Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, 1

Plot Summary:  Remember learning about Zeus, Poseidon and the other Greek Gods, well what if one of them was your father?  Twelve year-old Percy Jackson has been expelled from several schools due to events outside of his control.  Diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, Percy has always struggled to fit in. At his latest school, Yancy Academy, the class goes on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where Percy is attacked by his math teacher Mrs. Dodds, who is really one of the three furies.  Quickly, it is revealed to Percy that he is a “half-blood”, his mother is human and his father a Greek god, Poseidon.  Percy is transferred to Camp Half-Blood, a school for kids like him that will not only train him to fight but will also protect him from evil forces that wish to destroy the half-bloods.  Ultimately, Percy must leave the camp with fellow classmate Annabeth and protector Grover to save his mother, clear his name, and save the world.

Review:  This is a fantastic story that takes the reader on a fast-paced mythological adventure.  Percy Jackson, a seemingly troubled boy always getting into trouble is actually a “half-blood”, born of a human mother and Greek god father.  Of course, Percy doesn’t just have any Greek god as his father, but Poseidon, God of the Sea.  Riordan puts a new spin on classic Greek mythology making it a fun read for all ages.  The small details such as a pen that turns into a sword and the stench of Percy’s stepfather add to the richness of this tale.  Ultimately, this is a tale of heroism, family and loyalty that is sure to strike a chord with readers of all ages.

If you liked this book you may like Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan, The Death Catchers by Jennifer Anne Kogler,Wereworld by Curtis Jobling

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Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Title: Fablehaven

Author: Brandon Mull

Publisher:  Shadow Mountain, 2006

ISBN:   1-59038-581-0

Age Level:  Age 9-14, Lexile: 700

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Series:  Fablehaven, 1

Plot Summary:  When Kendra and Seth are sent to live with their grandparents for the summary, little do they realize the adventure that will ensue.  Unbeknownst to them, their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven, a sanctuary for mystical creatures like fairies, trolls, witches and imps.  Their grandfather has put many rules in place to ensure their safety, but Seth, being a little too curious continually stretches and breaks these rules.  Eventually, his curiosity allows a powerful evil force to be unleashed putting the family, sanctuary, and humanity in danger.  Kendra and Seth must find the courage and strength to slay this evil force and save their family.

Review:  This a great read for the whole family.  The characters are believable and the sibling rivalry and bickering between Seth and Kendra brings  a touch of reality to this otherwise fantastical story.  This a classic story of good overcoming evil and Kendra, the “goody two-shoes” having to find strength within her to fight evil whereas Seth, always curious and unafraid is often getting himself into sticky situations.  Mull does a fantastic job of creating a visual image of the sanctuary and all of its mystical creatures, as well as the personalities that they embody.  For all those fantasy adventure fans,Fablehavenwill leave you wanting the next installment.

If you liked Fablehaven you may like: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi; Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

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Thirsty by M.T. Anderson

Title: Thirsty

Author:  M.T. Anderson

Publisher:  Candlewick, 1997

ISBN: 978-0763638955

Reading Level:  Age 12 & up, Lexile 720

Genre: Fantasy, Horror

Plot Summary:  Vampires are tolerated as part of life in the New England town that Chris is growing up in.   When Chris finds out that admist his hormonal changes he is also becoming a vampire. Horrified by his new status and fighting an increasing blood lust, Chris makes a deal with Chet, a celestial being from the Forces of Light….or is he.  Chris agrees to help him keep the Vampire Lord imprisoned beneath the local reservoir in exchange for having his vampirism reversed.   Chris starts to doubt whether he has done the right thing in helping Chet and ends up not knowing who Chet really is or whether he can be trusted.  The supernatural twist at the end is attention grabber!

Review:  Anderson has painted a clever atmospheric world where vampires are part of life but barely tolerated and staked whenever they kill or offend the humans.  In this coming-of-vampire story Chris, guided by a strong moral compass cannot believe he is turning into a vampire. He tries his best to hold onto his humanity while struggling against his biology.  Along with the horror of turning into a vampire, Chris is dealing with changing hormones, fighting parents, and friendship problems all issues that an average teenager can relate to.  For his debut novel, this is a compelling page turner that infuses humor with adventure and horror.  Anderson’s haunting prose will undoubtedly capture the attention of vampire and horror lovers alike.

If you liked this book you may like: Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan, The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey, Witch and Wizard by James Patterson

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Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

Title: Eighth Grade Bites

Author: Heather Brewer

Publisher: Speak, 2007

ISBN: 978-0142411872

Genre: UrbanFantasy, Humorous

Reading Level: Age 9 & up, Lexile 780

Series:  The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, 1

Plot Summary:  Vladimir Tod is vampire, but not your typical vampire.  His father was vampire and his mother human but they were killed three years ago in a mysterious accident.  Vlad lives with his Aunt Nelly and goes to school like any normal eighth grader.   Vlad has to control his vampire urges along with dealing with junior high pressures.  He survives off bags of blood that Nelly brings him from the hospital where she works.  When a substitute teacher arrives at the school and begins questioning Vlad, he’s afraid he’ll be exposed for what he is.  In addition, Vlad finds out he is being hunted by a vampire killer. Ultimately, Vlad realizes that if he is going to survive in this world, he needs to learn about his past.

Review:  This is fun, fast read that will appeal to a wide range of readers.  The characters are not overly developed but this is the first in the series and there is time to delve into each character.  The premise for the story is fun and Brewer throws in some clever ideas like dunking cookies in blood.   This is not a serious vampire story but has enough action that readers will get hooked.  As so many vampire stories are written for an older audience, this is a great story for all those younger vampire lovers.  A great read for boys and reluctant readers, but this series has the capability of captivating many different readers. 

If you liked this book you may like: Invincible by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Blood by Kevin Wignall, Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

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Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Title:  Reckless

Author:  Cornelia Funke

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company, 2010

ISBN:  978-0-316-05609-0

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Reading Level: Age 10 & up

Plot Summary:  Jacob Reckless was 12 years old when he discovered his father’s secret, a mirror that served as a portal into another world.  For 12 years Jacob slips away into the mirror in search of his missing father.  When his younger brother Will follows him through the mirror, Will gets clawed by Goyl and begins turning to stone.  Jacob sets off with his companion Fox, a shape-shifting Vixen, Will and his girlfriend Clara to search for a cure.   Jacob is in a race against time as everyday Will’s skin is turning to stone.  Jacob must outwit fairies and battle other magical creatures if he is going to reverse the spell and save his brother.

Review:  Funke weaves a fantastic fantasy world in which Jacob has spent many years exploring.  Reckless includes several fairy-tale motifs and is not afraid to explore the darker side of fairy tales.  This is a creatively written, page turner that will keep the reader wanting more.  The characters are not well-developed and there are many of them to keep track of which may be an issue for some.   This is a great read and fun adventure that ends with a twist and leaves the reader wanting more.  Hopefully Funke is working on a sequel to this fantasy adventure.

If you liked this book you may like: Murkmere by Patricia Elliott, The White Horse Trick by Kate Thompson, Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke, A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

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Storm Runners by Roland Smith

Title:  Storm Runners

Author: Roland Smith

Publisher:  Scholastic Press, 2011

ISBN:  978-0-545-08175-7

Genre: Adventure

Series:  Storm Runners, 1

Reading Level:  Age 10 & up

Plot Summary:   Chase Masters has grown up on the road, chasing tornados, hurricanes and floods with his father.  Hardly able to stay longer than a month at a time in school, Chase is learning about storms and survival with his father.  When his father heads off to St. Petersburg, Florida to chase Hurricane Emily, Chase stays behind at a farm.  This is no ordinary farm but is actually the home to circus animals when they’re not traveling.  When the hurricane takes a new turn and makes landfall in the town where Chase is staying, his survival skills are put to the test.  Chase along with two classmates must hike from where there bus overturned back to the farm through gale force winds, a hungry alligator and other obstacles. 

Review:  Storm Runners is a fast-paced adventure that is sure to grab the reader from the start.  The story keeps moving from one characters point of view to another, keeping the suspense strong.  While the story is somewhat unbelievable, the author does a good job at achieving suspension of disbelief.  Smith does a great job of placing the reader in the middle of the storm and for all you action lovers, this book is a winner.   The story ends with a cliffhanger and readers will want to get their hands on the sequel,The Surge!

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