Category Archives: Kid-Lit/Middle Grade

#Mx3 Review: Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle by George Hagen

  • Age Range: 9 – 12 years
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (August 26, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9780385371032
  • Source: Publisher

Twelve year-old Gabriel Finley has lived with his Aunt Jasmine in her old Brooklyn brownstone since his father disappeared three years ago. As he gets older, he has increasingly more questions about his father’s disappearance.  As he approaches his thirteenth birthday, his aunt presents Gabriel with his father’s journal in hopes of answering some of these questions.

Called the Book of Ravens, the journal tells of a time when humans and ravens spoke to each other as equals. Partnered for life, humans and their raven partners, known as an amicus, rarely parted ways.   This relationship ended after  group of ravens, enticed by immortality, did the unthinkable and killed their human partners. Now, these evil ravens, known as valravens, were punished with an endless life of darkness and despair.  The only way to tell the evil ravens from the good was to ask them a riddle. Valravens, unable to laugh, would not be able to answer the riddle.

Unbeknownst to Gabriel, he has the ability to communicate with ravens.  Gabriel would never be confused for a super hero. Quiet, with just a few friends, Gabriel suddenly realizes that he holds the power to save his father. Always quite skilled at solving riddles, Gabriel and an unlikely group of allies begin their quest  to a secret world beneath the city in hopes of saving his father.  His nemesis in this journey is his uncle Corax, shunned from his family at the age of twelve. Also skilled with the ability to speak with ravens, Corax’s life took a darker route than Gabriel and his father.

Rich with unusual characters and a fantastical world full of imagination, Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle is a genuinely captivating middle-grade novel perfect for younger fans of Harry Potter or The Hobbit.  The themes of friendship, family, and loyalty combined with the fantastical journey form a well-rounded and enriching read.  That said, there are some darker aspects of this novel that might lend itself to be read with a parent.  I read it with my nine year-old and we found ourselves eagerly looking forward to reading time each night.

Readers will quickly pick up on the novel’s similarities with Harry Potter and its homage to Norse mythology. Beyond this, the author excels at making this book stand out on its own merit.  Hints at sequels have my son & I clamoring for more. Highly, highly recommended.

 

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Review: Party Games: A Fear Street Novel by R. L. Stine

 

  • Grade Level: 7 – 12
  • Series: Fear Street
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (September 30, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9781250051615
  • Source: Publisher

When Rachel Martin is invited to Brendan Fear’s birthday party at his family’s home on Fear Island, she can’t resist. Despite her friends’ warnings, her crush on Brendan clouds her judgement and she readily accepts the invite. Brendan’s infamous parties are known for their unusual party games.  This time, however, the party games turn deadly. One by one, the guests begin dying, their means of death mimicking childish games. As their hopes for escape vanish, Rachel and the other guests quickly realize they are stuck on this remote island with a killer.

Who doesn’t love the Fear Street novels? Like many others my age, many of us grew up reading these terrifying teen horror novels.  When a new book in the series was announced I was thrilled beyond measure. Unfortunately, however, Party Games didn’t really live up to my expectations.

Without revealing too much about the plot, there is definitely a supernatural vibe to this book. Isolated, mysterious island, hints of brutal deaths and possible haunting.  Unfortunately, Stine decided to take a pass on this and instead opted to go the path of a mysterious masked killer.  This was quite unfortunate as I tend to think Stine fans (young and old alike) tend to prefer his novels with a supernatural edge. Additionally, I felt the ending was wrapped up a little too quickly, almost as if Stine ran out of ideas and decided to end it quickly.

My devotion toward the Fear Street novels is so strong that I would still recommend this novel despite my complaints. Perhaps I’m too old to appreciate them? Or perhaps Stine does have a contingent of fans that would read and enjoy anything he’s written.  Like with his adult novel last year, Red Rain, perhaps my expectations are just too high? I’ll let you decide.  Have you read Party Games? What did you think?

 

Review: Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years (3-7th grade)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: GRAPHIX (August 26, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9780545540605
  • Source: Publisher

Raina wanted nothing more in the world than to have a little sister. When her wish is finally granted and her sister Amara is born, life isn’t exactly what she thought it would be. Amara makes it pretty obvious that she prefers to spend time alone. Raina straps on her headphones, plugs in her Walkman, and disappears in her own world. As the years pass and a baby brother joins the family, Raina and Amara are no closer than before. Yet, when the family goes on a road trip from California to Colorado and things take quite a few unexpected turns, Raina and Amara decide to see past their differences and forge an allied front against the unexpected future before them.

As soon as I heard about this graphic novel I knew I had to read it. Having two sisters myself, I  wholeheartedly understand the the challenges Raina faced with the introduction of her younger siblings.  Telgemeier alternates between scenes of seriousness and laugh-out-loud humor to share her real-life relationship with her little sister. A sequel to her previous graphic novel Smile, Sisters continues Raina’s autobiographical journey in graphic novel format.

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Although a bit lighter in tone than her other graphic novels, this heartwarming tale about family and sisterhood is sure to be a hit for fans of Telgemeier’s work, new and old alike.   Telgemeier shares the struggle between siblings in a fun and comical manner, using tone and language appropriate to the intended age group.  While it’s likely that readers will devour this in one sitting, Sisters is truly a book readers will pick up again and again.

 

After I read it this book, I encouraged my boys to do the same. While they are obviously brothers (and not sisters), it was my belief that the message would carry over. Here are their thoughts:

Justin (9): I liked it! Even though I’m a boy and have a brother and not a sister, I kind of knew what Raina and Amara were going through. Wait, am I Amara? I guess so, since I am the little brother. I mean, I understand wanting to do my own thing. I like to draw and do art projects and John likes to play video games and watch TV. I like my time to myself so I could kind of get both Amara and Raina’s side of this story.  I think it’s a fun book that all kids should read!

John (nearly 15): So I’m not the only one with an annoying sibling? Kidding! This was a fun and fast read. It kind of made me remember what I felt like when Justin was born. I had my parents to myself for six years before he came along! Thankfully we never had to share a room because that just wouldn’t work at all. I like that it was fun but had a message, too. Basically, you’ll always have fights with your siblings, but when life gets hard they are the one person you can turn to to hold you up. I think it’s cool how she’s reliving her childhood through graphic novels. I loved Smile and I really liked this one too.

There you have it! Three perspectives that, for once, agree on something: We highly recommend Sisters!

 

Audiobook Review: Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Unabridged edition (April 10, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0061341045
  • Source: Personal copy

Twelve-year-old Stephanie is confused when, after her eccentric uncle passes away, she is on the list to attend the reading of the will. There, a stranger appears, a man bundled up in a scarf, coat, and hat.  He’s introduced as Skulduggery Pleasant, a close friend of her uncle. When it comes time for the reading of the will, Stephanie is shocked to learn she’s inherited her uncle’s home.

Stephanie is attacked her first night staying alone in her uncle’s home. It is Skulduggery Pleasant who comes to her rescue, but Stephanie sees him for what he truly is: a walking, talking skeleton detective. She quickly becomes immersed in a world of magic in which an evil creature by the name of Nefarian Serpine is attempting to get his hands on the Scepter of the Ancients, a weapon that will wield him limitlessness power.  Together, with Skulduggery, the unlikely duo must confront this ancient evil and prevent him from taking control over the world!

A few weeks ago, I put out a request on Twitter for audiobook recommendations. This series was one of the first recommendations I received.  I don’t listen to a lot of middle grade/young adult audio books so I was really looking forward to this adventure. And boy, was it an adventure! Skulduggery Pleasant encompasses so much that I feel is missing in middle grade books! A young, female protagonist who, despite her age, is quite strong and fearless. The addition of Skulduggery himself adds a sense of humor and wit that lightens a potentially dark plot line. A sci-fi/fantasy meets detective story! But what really stands out for me is the audio book production.  Not only is there an outstanding narrating performance by Rupert Degas, but each chapter leads with catchy (ok, and a little bit cheesy) music. It’s almost as if you are listening to a television series or a radio show.

Finally, while the cover looks a bit creepy, the tone of the book is actually not. I have both an eight and a fourteen year old and I think this would be appropriate for both!  I guarantee any fan of mystery or magic of any age will fall in love with this unlikely duo of evil fighting heroes!  I cannot wait to listen to the next book in this eight book series! Highly, highly recommended.

Guest Review: Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic by Mark Tatulli

  • Age Range: 7 – 12 years
  • Series: Amp! Comics for Kids
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (October 1, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1449435483
  • Source: Publisher

Today, I’m excited to welcome my youngest son, Justin (8), for a guest review! He’s only reviewed a few books for me but, as he gets older, he’s interested in following his brother’s footsteps in providing fairly regular reviews for this blog. Take it away, Justin!

Even though I am only in third grade, there are a lot of things that the character in this book likes that I like too. Desmond is in sixth grade and loves monsters, just like me. He likes to create special effects and stunts to scare people. I haven’t done any of these things myself because I don’t want to get into trouble but that doesn’t stop Desmond! Luckily (like me!) he has a mom that sticks up for him and gets him out of trouble!  The problem with Desmond is that he is really smart and doing good things with his talent instead of bad. There are so many people who try to get him to do this, but Desmond is more interested in terrifying and scaring people.

One person is out to get Desmond and that is his principal, Mr. Needles. Mr. Needles knows Desmond is up to no good and really wants to catch him in the act. Desmond can’t stop misbehaving but knows if he gets caught he won’t be able to attend the class field trip at the end of the school year.  So, he is forced to enroll in three after school activities as a way to keep him out of trouble. Will it be enough to stop Desmond? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

My mom asked me to tell you why I liked this book. In addition to really liking Desmond, I also liked all of Desmond’s cartoons and drawings that are included. It reminded me a lot of two other series I like, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate.  These drawings made the book seem shorter and made me want to read faster so I could get to the next drawing.

Also, at the end of the book Desmond tells people how to make monster magic (like making fake blood!) at home! I think this is probably the coolest part of the book. But I’m going to ask my Mom for permission first!

If you are a kid in third grade and higher and you like Halloween, monsters, and books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid I think you will like this book too! If you do, let me know, ok?

Thank you, Justin! Here is where I will add a bit of a parental advisory! Desmond’s antics are a little out of control at times! As Justin read, he and I discussed Desmond’s behavior and why it was inappropriate. I do highly recommend this book for the audience Justin suggests but with a caveat that you have a discussion with your child to remind them that Desmond is a fictional character, in a book, and why duplicating his behavior is ill-advised!
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Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader: Guys Read: Other Worlds by Jon Scieszka

ReluctantReaderColorTales of a (formerly) Reluctant Reader is a feature in which my oldest son John,  a formerly reluctant reader) discusses books that he thinks other reluctant readers (former or not) will enjoy!  Today’s book is Guys Read: Other Worlds :

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Walden Pond Press (September 17, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0061963798
  • Source: Publisher

I don’t read a lot of fiction, but when I do I am most excited about books about outer space and spaceships, maybe because I’m such a big Star Wars fan. My mom calls this science fiction. I call it awesome.  Anyway, I’m a big fan of the Guys Read series already, so when my mom told me they were coming out with one about science fiction I was beyond excited. Then (it gets even better!) I saw that it included stories from some of my favorite authors like Tom Angleberger and Rick Riordan and I was sold. Epic, right!?

What I’ve learned is that while I don’t always like to read long books (sorry mom!) I don’t have a problem reading shorter stories. I think a lot of kids who don’t like to read will like this, too. It’s like you get a really great story in just a few pages. I can read an entire story in just a few minutes. It’s brilliant, really.

I don’t want to say too much about each of the stories so instead I will tell you about my favorites:

Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo by Rick Riordan: Ok, this one was just funny!! We all know who Percy Jackson is, right? Anyway, in this story he’s trying to celebrate his friend’s birthday when they run into Apollo. Yes, that Apollo. Apparently Apollo is trying to do a concert but he’s missing one of his backup singers. I’m totally serious! Percy has to help find this singer because, really, who can say no to Apollo. My mom says this story isn’t printed anywhere else so, Percy Jackson fans, don’t miss this!

Bouncing the Grinning Goat by Shannon Hale: I really liked this one! The main character is a girl who is pretending to be this really tough warrior from this place that has a really bad reputation. She’s able to lie about it for a while but has to face the truth when they are actually attacked by some really bad creatures. I guess it sort of teaches a lesson about being true about yourself. I just thought it was awesome.

The Scout by D.J. Machale: This one was my favorite, by far!! You think you are reading about this kid who is a Scout (I thought Boy Scout because I am one) and is trying to get out of camping with the other Scouts. Turns out to be far, far different than what I could have every imagined.

The Dirt on Our Shoes by Neal Shusterman: This is another one of my favorites. These people have been in space for 60 years and are finally landing on a planet that they will call home. Turns out the whole point of the trip was a lie. It has some pretty gross scenes in it (that involve…you know…poop and stuff) but overall it was pretty great.

So these are my favorites. I liked the other stories but probably not as much as these.  The other stories are from authors that my mom really likes: Shaun Tan (he writes graphic novels) and Ray Bradbury (we read his book The Halloween Tree every year). I mean, I liked them enough but the Ray Bradbury one was  kind of creepy.

What I really want to say is how great this book would be for kids who have a hard time reading a really big book. This just shows that sometimes big things come in smaller packages (kind of like me, haha!). And I know my mom says it’s not nice go call books boy books or girl books. This definitely looks like a boy book (it does!) and it is called “Guys Read” but I think girls would really like it too.  So, run out to your favorite bookstore and pick this one up. It just came out yesterday so be the first of your friends to own it. If they don’t have it, though, I’m sure you can find one of the other Guys Read books. They are all pretty awesome.

 

Guest Post: D.J. MacHale (Guys Read: Other Worlds)

Today I am pleased to welcome D.J. MacHale, one of the contributing authors to Guys Read: Other Worlds for a guest post today. This title, along with the other Guys Read titles, are excellent novels for reluctant readers (especially boys)!  My own son has enjoyed each and every one of them. Stay tuned for his review of Guys Read: Other Worlds, due to post tomorrow!

djmachaleD.J. MacHale is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pendragon series and the Morpheus Road series. He has written, directed and produced many television series and movies for young people that have been seen on Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, HBO, Showtime, PBS, Discovery Kids, and the broadcast networks. D.J. lives with his family in Southern California. You can visit him online at http://djmachalebooks.com.

The trigger.  That’s what I’m always looking for.  It’s that magical moment when something happens that sparks the idea for a story.  One of the hardest things to do is start from scratch and say:  “I think I’ll write a story.”  There are far too many possibilities.  My daughter is always asking me to tell her ghost stories.  For somebody who has written dozens of ghost stories, and hundreds of every other kind of story, you’d think it would be a snap.  It isn’t.  I need a trigger.  So I got smart and said to her:  “Okay, give me a title.”  Once she started coming up with things like:  “The Whispering Trees” or “The Mutant Bunny” it was off to the races.

When I was asked to write a short story for Jon Scieszka’s awesome Guys Read series, my first thought was “Sure!”  My second thought was:  “Uh oh, now what?”  I had no ideas.  That was until I heard the title for the collection.  Other Worlds.  Bingo.  Trigger.  Shake, stir…“The Scout”.

Many (okay, all) of my stories deal with some form of fantastical conflict.  Whether you call them science fiction or fantasy adventures, my characters have to deal with larger-than-life challenges that you don’t come across in your average day.  At least I hope you don’t.  However, as wild and improbable as the worlds they operate in may be, at the heart of all these stories are very real, relatable characters who are learning about themselves as much as they are learning about the boogie man.  That’s what makes a science fiction story interesting to me.  Sure, it’s exciting to have all the explosions and narrow escapes and unique settings, but none of that fun stuff matters if you don’t care about your characters and what’s going through their heads as they face the unknown.

I’m often asked why I write for guys.  The truth is, I don’t.  I write about things that I like and since I’m a guy, I like guy-things.  I sort of wish sometimes that I could write a girl-centric story.  I’d probably sell a billion more books.  But I can’t do that.  I have to be true to what comes out, and what comes out appeals to guys.  (To be honest, my stories appeal to plenty of girls too, but mostly to the kind of girls I like hanging around with….girls who like guy-things)

The ScoutWith “The Scout”, I did something I had never attempted before.  There’s only one character.  Kit.  That was a real challenge because with one character, there’s nobody to talk to.  No dialog.  No clever exchanges between characters to help bring out their personalities.  By doing this, I got right to the heart of what I always try to do, which is to get into the head of a real person and have the reader experience the adventure right along with them.

It’s Kit vs. “Other Worlds”.  Nice trigger.  I hope you like it.

Thank you, D.J. for stopping by! Guys Read: Other Worlds is out today. What are you waiting for!?

Review: We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (February 1, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1561456276
  • Source: Publisher

Many of us have basic details about the Birmingham Children’s March in 1963 in which 4,000 students boycotted school in a march to protest segregation. Yet never before have we stepped inside the shoes of those students who stepped up to fight for rights which should have been guaranteed but were not.

We’ve Got a Job follows the stories of four children who participated in the march. Nine-year-old Audrey Hendricks was the youngest to participate. Her parents stood behind her decision, as did her teachers and close friends. Washington (Wash) Booker grew up among poverty and a strong fear of the police. It wasn’t uncommon for parents to threaten their children, ordering them to behave or “the police are gonna come and get you.” James Stewart was an excellent student, opting not to let the color of his skin determine how well he did in school. He lived in a large house with a pool, his parents were lucky enough to have successful jobs. Arnetta Streeter had light skin and could have passed as white, but instead went so far as to attend young activist training so she could stand fight to end segregation. She grew up being called names due to the light color of her skin, even by other black children. Her desire for change was so strong that she started a club at school called the Peace Ponies. Among the stories of these young, brave, individuals, readers get a glimpse of other powerful individuals from both sides of the battle lines  involved in this fight, from Martin Luther King, Jr to Reverend Shuttlesworth and Bull Connor.

Breaking up the text are large black and white photos that allow readers to visualize the intensity of this battle, from the fear in the eyes of those individuals being attacked by police to the shrouded faces of the Ku Klux Klan. Detailed sidebars heighten the intensity, adding even more information to this detail-rich chronicle of a pivotal time in our nation’s history. Words cannot express how moved I was by this book. This is a title that should be added to curriculum in schools around the country so that it may educate and inspire this generation of children to work for further change not just in our own country but world-wide.

I chose to read this book with my boys. Justin is seven, just two years younger than the youngest student in this march. At this point in his schooling, while he he has learned about the great acts of Martin Luther King, Jr., his curriculum hasn’t delved into the deeper and more dark aspects of that time period. He was shocked and horrified to learn of the treatment of children his own age, the crimes that be committed against blacks without fear of punishment from the authorities (and in some cases, at the hands of authorities). So gracious that he will never have to endure this treatment, I still felt it was important for him to learn at an early age just how far our country has come.  John-John is thirteen and well-informed about this pivotal time in our nation’s history. Still, he was unfamiliar with the Children’s March and was devastated to learn about what those young children went through to stand up for what they believed in.  Given the fact that we are a biracial family, I felt it was important that the boys understand just how lucky we are and appreciate just how much those before us did in order to guarantee the freedoms we now have.

Highly, highly recommended.

Frightful Friday: Lovecraft Middle School-Professor Gargoyle & The Slither Sisters by Charles Gilman

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week, I’m pleased to welcome my oldest son, John-John, for a special review of the first two books in the Lovecraft Middle School series, Professor Gargoyle and The Slither Sisters:

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Okay, when I started middle school I knew things were going to be a little weird. My experience couldn’t compare to seventh-grader Robert Arthur’s experience at Lovecraft Middle School.

In the first book, Professor Gargoyle, Robert finds himself assigned to Lovecraft Middle School in the south part of town While all his friends were assigned to attend another middle school. His mom raved about the school, talking about all the great technology and the fact that it was built using all recycled material. What makes it worse is that when he walks into school on the first day, Robert runs into Glenn Torkells, the bully who tormented him in middle school. Could it get any worse? Definitely.

On the first day, students find rats running down the halls and in the classroom. His science teacher, Professor Gargoyle, is a bit odd. Robert gets lost (literally lost, not just losing track of time or getting lost in a book) in the school library. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Within the first few days of school Robert discovers his mother was right; Lovecraft Middle School isn’t your average middle school. The story (and secrets!) behind the school are far darker and deadlier than can possibly be imagined.

In the second book, The Slither Sisters, after barely escaping the creatures that lie waiting in Lovecraft Middle School, Robert discovers that two of his classmates, twins Sarah and Sylvia Price, are actually horrible and hideous monsters in disguise. If that isn’t bad enough, one of them is running for Student Council President, determined to take control of the school.  Once again Robert and his “unique” best friends, the strange group of heroes must put an end to their campaign and prevent the monsters from taking control of his middle school.

Ok, so let’s start out with the covers. I admit, a cover of a book can persuade me to read a book. These books are holograms! At first, the faces on the covers look like normal people but when you walk past the book or tilt it at an angle, you see the true image of these horrid monsters! Awesome, right?

It doesn’t stop there, though. I’m a middle-schooler and I found myself relating to Robert’s character. Although he’s in middle school, he hasn’t gone through a growth spurt or his voice hasn’t changed like the other kids. He pretty much looks the same as he did in elementary school. This is the second selling point for me: I can relate to the main character.

Thirdly: Man, is this book spooky!  I don’t typically like spooky or scary stories like my mom and younger brother do. But something about these stories allowed me to overlook these feelings. I think it has something to do with the things I list above: the epic covers and a character I understand. Without telling you too much, the middle school Robert attends is built using the materials of a mansion that burned to the ground years ago. A mansion that was home to a pretty evil guy who performed some pretty crazy experiments. Using the materials of this supposedly haunted house allows the creatures that once roamed the mansion to now walk the halls of Lovecraft Middle School. And I thought some of my teachers were monsters!! But what I like about these books most of all is that Robert, a pretty uninteresting, normal kid winds up being the hero. Who doesn’t love a story like that!?

Best of all is that there are more books in this series that focus on some of the other creatures of Lovecraft Middle School! I have the third one, Teacher’s Pest, already even though it doesn’t come out until May. Mom says I need to wait a little longer before I review it but trust me, you are going to want to read all three books in one sitting.

Ok, Mom says I should also mention that although this series is set in a middle school, kids younger than that age can read and enjoy these books as well. Like my brother, Justin, for example. When these books arrived we had to wrestle to see who got to read them first! I won’t say who won….

So, I hope I made you want to read these books. I plan on donating my copies to my middle school so that other students can read them. THANKS!

Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader: The Fellowship for Alien Detection by Kevin Emerson

Tales of a (formerly) Reluctant Reader is a feature in which my thirteen year old son, John (a formerly reluctant reader) shares this thoughts on books geared toward reluctant readers. The review below is entirely his own with no alterations other than corrections in spelling.

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Walden Pond Press (February 26, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0062071858
  • Source: Publisher

Haley a pretty normal teenage girl living with her family in Connecticut. All of her friends are looking forward to spending their summers going off to fun camps. Haley’s plans are a bit different; she plans on spending the summer driving around the country with her very supportive parents, investigating the disappearances of several people thanks to a grant from a mysterious research foundation. There’s more than just missing persons, though. Around the same time they go missing, the towns they live in undergo a lapse of time in which they don’t remember what happened. Sixteen minutes are lost with no explanation. Haley uncovers a group of people referred to as We are the Missing,who claim to have experiences with alien abduction.

Dodger lives in Washington and, like Haley, is awarded a grant to investigate the unusual. Unlike Haley, he doesn’t really have a supportive family and is always trying to get the approval of his father. Haley and Dodger meet when the foundation supporting their research mission calls everything off when things get too dangerous. Haley and Dodger soon become the ones investigated, instead of the ones investigating. They are the only ones who can find out the truth about these disappearances and must do so before they too go missing!

Wow…was this an intense book! Normally, I’m not really in to alien abductions or anything spooky like that but this book changed my mind! From the very beginning, the story grabbed my attention. It was almost as if I was watching a movie rather than reading a book!  One of the things I really liked about the book were the two main characters, a boy and a girl. Both Haley & Dodger were very interesting people, Dodger maybe more than Haley because he heard voices. But because there is both a boy and a girl character, I think this book would be interesting to both boys and girls my age.

Also, the journey the two go on is pretty sweet! All-expense paid two week vacation!? Yes please! The investigations they go on are pretty intense so this also almost feels like a mystery as well. Maybe a sci-fi mystery? In any case, I’m going to be telling all my friends about this book! Now I need to come up with an exciting way to spend my summer vacation!

Guess what! My mom says that one lucky reader of this blog can win a copy of this book. Awesome, right? To enter, just fill out this form below. The winner will be emailed by my Mom on Friday, March 15. Tell all your friends about this giveaway! Trust me, you don’t want to pass this up!