Friday, June 15, 2012

Storm Season

We've already had a tropical storm this year along the east coast of the U.S. And now that we are in hurricane season I am sure there will be plenty more to follow. So it is as good a time as any to read some books that revolve around storms. Roland Smith's "Storm Runners" Fills your Summer with Adventures and Excitement

“Storm Runners" (Series)
By Roland Smith
For Ages 9 – 12
     Roland Smith brings his signature intensity to these three books. Each is about 150 pages in length and you won’t want to put them down until you're finished. Notice: You have been warned! Rated 4.5 (adventure, peril, heroism)

     In “Storm Runners” we’re introduced to Chase Masters, a 13-year-old boy with survival smarts. His mother and sister were killed in a car accident and his father was struck by lightning. Soon after the lightning strike Chase and his father hit the road fixing people’s houses after big storms. They thought they had seen and prepared for everything until they run into "the hurricane of the century" in Florida. One disaster after another are hurled at Chase and two of his classmates, Nicole and Rashawn, as they struggle to survive the night and find their families.

     In the second book, "The Surge," our heroes have safely made it through the night and managed to make it to Nicole's family farm. Now they are facing entirely new dangers. Her family farm happens to be the winter home of the Rossi Brothers' Circus and the animals are loose. This includes the lions and a very nasty leopard. Flood waters are rising, the kids need to find higher ground and one of the circus elephants is about to give birth and cannot be moved. It's another nail biter.

     Roland pulls out all the stops in the final book, “Eruption.” The Rossi Brothers’ Circus has gone missing after an earthquake in Mexico and Chase is part of the rescue team headed south of the border to find them. This time the gang faces more circus animals on the loose, the eruption of Mount Popocatepetl, landslides and much more as they search for the circus and Nicole’s mother.

     The action and adventure offer non-stop excitement and peril. Even the most reluctant reader will have a difficult time taking a break. The teen characters are well developed and smart. Although these books may be most appealing to boys, there are strong female characters that will keep girls interested as well. The only real drawback is the big finale. It’s a little too far-fetched and neatly wrapped up. Most young readers won’t let the ending stop them from wishing there was another book in the series though. This is definitely a fun and enjoyable series for light summertime reading.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Vamp It Up

I have spent the last three weeks dealing with an awful case of poison ivy and poison sumac. Between scratches I was able to read a few books. So here is my first review back from the edge of itching insanity.

"The Vampire Stalker"
By Allison Van Diepen
For Ages 12 - 16
     Think "Twilight" meets "Inkheart." Vampires leap from the pages of a popular book series into modern day Chicago and adventure and mayhem ensue. Rated 3.75 (vampires, romance, violence) 
     Amy is a 17-year-old fan of the popular "Otherworld" books. She has become so infatuated with the sordid adventure series, that she has fallen in love with the main character, Alexander. He is a brooding and very handsome vampire hunter. When Alexander and his arch-nemesis Vigo unknowingly enter our world it doesn't take long for panic to take hold in the city. Amy befriends Alexander and helps him discover a way back to his world. But before he can go back they have to find Vigo and kill him.
     It's not a new idea -- bringing characters from the pages of a book to life -- but Van Diepen does a good job keeping the story lively and fun. Sure you have to suspend disbelief and that can be difficult at times. The fact that Amy's mother is so willing to let Alexander stay in their condo without any knowledge of who he is may be the hardest thing to believe. The teen relationships and dialogue are fairly accurate and entertaining. The action is sprinkled throughout to keep the tempo up. And when Amy's snotty younger sister is kidnapped by Vigo things get very intense.
     Unfortunately the whole book is a little too predictable, not that it will matter to most teen readers. The idea of overly romanticized vampires coming to life will appeal to many readers, especially young "Twilight" fans.