Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Conspiracy Theory Pick: Adaptation


Adaptation
by Malinda Lo
Little, Brown and Company
2012
386 pages

Compelling, clever, twisted, and tense, Adaptation will have you looking under your bed and in closets, hurrying down dark streets and worrying that the guy in a dark suit might be following you.

Reese and David are at Phoenix Airport waiting on a flight home to San Francisco. They were just in a debate tournament and are looking forward to getting home. Reese knows she blew their chances at the win and worries that David is blaming her. She watches as birds begin falling from the sky onto the tarmac outside. Something’s wrong, Reese feels it. Then news stations start reporting plane crashes all over the country. Birds are downing aircraft. The president cancels all air traffic and Reese, David and their teacher are trapped—along with everyone else flying that day.

Suddenly there’s no cell phone reception either. The kids convince Mr. Chapman to rent a car and drive back home. When they stop for gas, Mr. Chapman is carjacked and shot. David starts the car and he and Reese race away from the crime scene as the gas station blows up. As the kids race through the desert, they are in a car accident.

When Reese wakes up, she doesn’t realize she’s been in a coma for twenty seven days. Where is Reese and why are the doctors keeping everything so hush-hush? David seems okay, too, but they both feel “different” somehow. After signing a non-disclosure agreement from the government, the kids agree to keep their treatment and the facility a secret and they are escorted home.

While they were in comas, the country has been put on lock-down. In many cities, rioting has occurred and the feds have enforced curfews and taken back the streets. Reese’s friend Julian has been working with a “conspiracy theory” Internet guru, and finds out about a government plot to keep the bird problem a secret. The government is hiding a lot more that a few thousand dead birds and Reese and David are right in the middle of the government’s secret program. A girl named Amber befriends Reese and soon they become much more than friends, but what is Amber’s secret? She says she’s trying to help Reese, but is she? (She immediately became suspect for me).

Reese and David notice that they’re not themselves. Their wounds heal in minutes and they are starting to understand each other’s thoughts. When Julian starts digging into Area 51 and uncovering government secrets, he unleashes a storm of publicity. Just what is going on in the Nevada desert? What happened to Reese and David?

The government conspiracy was easy to believe and even the fact that aliens had visited Earth was conceivable, but I felt the relationship between Amber and Reese was unbelievable; suddenly a girl wakes up from a coma, is greeted by government agents, is lied to, is forced to sign an agreement that places her in grave danger, and she turns around and trusts a complete stranger immediately with her secrets and her love? When Reese’s mother catches the two girls kissing, she has no reaction. Also, Reese’s mother is a lawyer with friends in high places, yet she accepts the fact that the government has had held her daughter for 27 days and returns her, yet she still has no reaction, legal or otherwise. It seemed almost as if Reese’s mother was involved in the conspiracy.

Recommended grade 8-up. Girl on girl kissing. Reese questions whether or not she is gay, but realizes she likes David, too. She has a discussion with Julian about whether she might be bisexual. The Amber/Reese relationship does not go any place and it’s over before it begins. Since there are gay characters in most prime time network television shows, students will likely look past her brief “like” with Amber. No language. Some violence.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my library. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Early Reader Pick: I Loathe You


I Loathe You
By David Slonim
Illustrations by the author
Aladdin
2012
24 pages

Hilarious and creepy monsters play a back and forth game of who loathes who the most. Big Monster claims he loathes Little Monster, “…more than chicken pox, more than stinky, sweaty socks. More than garbage in a dump or splinters sticking in my rump.”

Little Monster proclaims, “I loathe you more than bellyaches!”

Their funny banter and rude insults make them both all the more lovable for

any little monster…er, reader. Kids with a great sense of humor will adore the Monsters and their antics. Playful illustrations of Little Monster finally taking a bath and losing his fleas will have young readers laughing. Little Monster worries what if someday he might lose his stink? Would Big Monster still loathe him? Of course he would!

Highly recommended for young readers age 4-up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pamela's Picks: Best Books 2012 (middle and YA)

Pamela’s Picks 2012

These are the best books I’ve reviewed this year. I may have missed some great ones (I’m sure I have, but here’s my picks); these are the books I’ve read, reviewed, enjoyed, and decided that they represent the best reads for 2012.

Best books for middle school:



The Last Dragonslayer—quaint, quirky, and clever with quick banter and a bodacious female protagonist and a dragon you will fall in love with.




The Normal Kid—sweet!




Spy School—great pick for reluctant reader; clever writing, great story! Fun spy stuff!



The Quick Fix—middle school angst and pranks; one very savvy middle school private eye

Best books YA and high school:

First, let me say it was a big year for zombies!

Best zombie books:




A Bad Day for Voodoo—a cross between "Shaun of the Dead" and "Revenge of the Babysitter." Very funny! You will laugh out loud…





Undead—another great zombie book!

And all the others:




BZRK—very thrilling thriller that rockets along; this one made my skin crawl due to its “ick” factor




Butter—a poignant story of a high school boy who gets bullied and abused because of his weight






The Raven Boys—book one in the new trilogy by Stiefvater who just keeps getting better with each new book; this one’s a ghost story




Ditched: A Love Story—Prom night from hell! Funny as heck!




Sons of the 613— a great story of two brothers who find common ground and understanding; poignant ending




Cold Fury—this is one girl who can kick some serious butt!






Between the Lines—never read a story quite like this one; charming!




Unwholly—takes Unwind to a whole new level




Skylark—the cover drew me in, but the story sold me

Terror Pick: Adult Fiction




What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz—his most terrifying yet, and I’m a lifelong Koontz fan. Trust me on this one.

Best Book Covers 2012




Skylark—simply beautiful but disturbing




Cold Fury—I wanted to read the book when I saw the cover and the premise; mafia teen princess running from the bad mafia guys? I’m in!



Undead—who doesn’t love a cheerleader holding an axe dripping with blood?




Skinny—again, the cover sells the book and it helps to have the quote from Lauren Myracle on the front cover.




Obsidian—smoldering good looks and the words “They’re not like us” sells the book


Happy reading! And here's to 2013--another great year for YA books! Pamela

Friday, December 14, 2012

Chick Pick: Decked With Holly


Decked With Holly
by Marni Bates
Kensington Publishing
2012
244 pages


Funny, snarky, quaint and heartfelt, Decked With Holly is a great Christmas surprise! The cover--with its seasonal red and green title, the mistletoe, the girl in the Santa hat and the Christmas tree--will welcome readers to pick it up. Julie Kagawa says, “Fans of Meg Cabot will find Marni’s voice equally charming and endearing.” I loved the seasonal cover but I think the girl on the cover looks much older than a teenager.

After Holly embarrasses herself in front of an entire mall full of festive shoppers and their children by slapping a perverted, drunk Santa and then falling over the Christmas tree and wrecking the decorations, she embarks on a cruise with her entire family: her beloved grandpa, her mean-spirited, bullying aunt and two model thin girl cousins from hell.

Holly is seasick and puke-y and finds herself roomless kicked out of her stateroom by her evil cousins. She grabs a blanket and heads for the deck thinking that she’ll spend the night in a deck chair. A wave of nausea overcomes her and she ducks into the nearest open door, finding the bathroom and vomiting. Next thing she knows, she’s leaving the bathroom and someone yells and mistakes her for a zombie and sprays pepper spray in her face.

Nick is 1/3 of a rock band called ReadySet; they are the “next big thing” and have hordes of screaming teen females stalking them and paparazzi vying for their pictures. Nick takes a break from the crazed fan-hoopla and books a cruise. He doesn’t know that a deathly sick girl is puking her guts up in his bathroom. He sees someone leaving his bathroom and freaks out, spraying that someone with pepper spray.

When they are both caught by the "paps" and photographed, Nick has to spin the story the right way for the band’s sake. Holly agrees to be Nick’s fake girlfriend for the duration of the cruise. Nick and Holly display wonderful back and forth banter that runs the gamut from sarcasm to ugly insults. Holly makes fun of Nick’s celebrity status, and Nick calls her “The Mess.”

When the fauxmance is over, what is left? Readers will love Holly—a believable character who’s not the typical romance novel drop dead gorgeous—she’s a “normal” girl. They will love Nick, too; he’s a rock star who’s a real guy. Girls will be smitten by this frolicking read.

Highly, highly recommended grade 8-up. No sex, but the mention of sex and virginity does come up. Some kissing and holding hands. No language except “slutty” and Holly gives a wave with her middle finger extended.


FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for myself because I need a "light" girl-y read after so many dark dystopias. I will add it to the library shelves for more mature readers. It is pretty tame even by television standards. "Gossip Girl" is way more scandalous.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tooth Fairy Pick: A Very Beary Tooth Fairy

The Very Beary Tooth Fairy
Arthur A. Levine
Illustrations by Sarah S. Brannen
Scholastic Press
2013
32 pages

Available February 1, 2013

Delightful and colorful illustrations will thrill young readers and art lovers of all ages. Using watercolors and graphite, illustrator Sarah S. Brannen brings young Zach the bear to life.

Zach lives with his mother and sister Leah and has been warned to stay away from humans because, “They are dangerous and unpredictable…” but Zach wanders too close to a campground and sees a human family. He spies on them and sees a boy asking his mother about his loose tooth. The boy’s mother tells him to leave the tooth alone and later it will come out and he can leave it under his pillow in hopes that the tooth fairy will visit. Zach wonders if the tooth fair is a bear or a human. He asks his mother if the tooth fairy could be a bear. She tells him that anyone can be a bear.

The next day, Zach loses his tooth and worries if the tooth fairy is human she might be dangerous. When the fairy visits, she explains that she is a bear. She leaves Zach money and the picture of Sandy Koufax over his bed magically changes into a bear-like Sandy Koufax and Zach’s human-looking doll is magically turned into a bear.

Recommended age 3-up. This is a cute book with beautiful art and a kind message. The fact that humans are dangerous and unpredictable may be frightening for some little ones unless it is explained that bears might fear humans.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Short Story: "Jenny's First Adventure"--View for Free


To check out “Jenny’s First Adventure”, click here


From the publisher:

In My Epic Fairy Tale Fail (March 2013), Jenny is back with an all new adventure. Her new mission is in the Land of Tales, the crazy place where all the fairy tales come from and also the place her parent disappeared seven years ago. Jenny must battle an evil witch and complete three impossible tasks. Being an adventurer may be no fairy tale, but this is one mission Jenny can’t fail.

About the author: (from the publisher):

About The Author

Anna Staniszewski lives outside of Boston with her husband and an adorably crazy dog. She was named the Boston Public Library's 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Discovery Award. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and jumping rope with mermaids. Visit her at www.annastan.com




Monday, December 10, 2012

Dystopian Fantasy: Magisterium


Magisterium
by Jeff Hirsch
Scholastic Press
2012
320 pages

Read the first three chapters here

Unique and creepy, mysterious and dangerous, magical and dreadful, Magisterium is the second novel for YA author Jeff Hirsch (The Eleventh Plague).

Glenn remembers her mother vaguely. She went away years ago and no one has heard from her since. Glenn’s father became depressed and retreated into his workshop spending long hours working on The Project, a nonsensical invention he’s been tinkering with—sometimes for days on end. Glenn has to remind him to eat and to come in and sleep.

Then, her father discovers what he’s been looking for. Proof that the Rift was on purpose; proof the government has been covering up its secrets. Beyond their walls, there is a world out there—a world where his wife has disappered.

Glenn panics and tells her doctor about her father’s outlandish tale; the doctor works for the government and turns in Glenn and her father. Glenn’s father is taken away by armed guards, but Glenn escapes with her friend Kevin. They flee the fence and are soon in a strange land where magic is possible. Is her father right? Is Glenn’s mother here and will Glenn find her? What’s so important about the bracelet her father gave her? Why would the government kill for it?

Part science fiction, part dystopian novel, part fantasy and a little bit of romance, Magisterium will take readers to places they’ve never dreamed of.

Recommended grades 7-up. Some violence. No profanity.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the arc from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Early Reader Pick: Lucky Ducklings


Lucky Ducklings
by Eva Moore
Illustrations by Nancy Carpenter
Orchard Books
2013
32 pages

Available February 1, 2013

Using digital media and charcoal, illustrator Nancy Carpenter brings a duck family to life in this charming and sweet modern story about a quaint town near a serene pond.

Mama Duck takes her brood to the city park. The Duck family enjoys eating what some people have discarded, then, they waddle down the street. Mama Duck leads her family of Pippin, Bippin, Tippin, Dippin and “…last of all…Little Joe. “ When they reach a storm drain, Mama plows on ahead not realizing her little ducklings are in any danger. The little ducks fall into large openings in the drain and are under the street, crying for help. Mama Duck is afraid for her ducks. Luckily, some people saw the incident and call for help.

Three firemen show up and a smart man named Perry takes a cable from his pickup and ties it to the drain grate. He is able to lift off the grate and the firemen rescue the ducklings to Mama Duck’s delight. The onlookers cheer.

This true incident happened in June 2000 and because of it, the town of Montauk, New York, changed the grates for their storm drains to ones with smaller openings so that no more unsuspecting wildlife would fall in. Hooray for lucky ducklings!

Young readers will love the spunky, little ducklings and giggle at Little Joe, who’s always last and always trying to keep up--that's him on the cover, bringing up the rear, as usual. He waddles to the beat of his own drummer, for sure.

Highly,highly recommended for young readers ages 4-up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

YA Pick: Crash (Visions, Book 1)


Crash
Visions, Book 1
By Lisa McMann
Simon Pulse
2013
256 pages

Available January 8, 2013

Don’t make any plans to leave the house because you won’t be going anywhere once you open the pages of book 1 in this new thriller series! This unputdownable novel grabbed me from the first page.

Two Italian immigrant families own competing pizza places near one another—years ago, the two patriarchs had a knock-down drag-out fight and since then, neither man wants anything to do with the other and they have forbidden their children from seeing or speaking to each other.

Jules is fine with her father’s rule, that is until she starts seeing a vision—she sees a snowplow careening into rival’s restaurant, a big explosion, and nine body bags in the snow. First, she sees it on a billboard, then in windows, then on television, and as the day draws nearer, she can’t stop the vision. It’s everywhere like a movie loop in her mind. Jules is forced to warn Sawyer Angotti that she sees his restaurant exploding and him in a body bag—and she admits to herself that she’s carried the torch for Sawyer since age seven. She’s been secretly watching him for years, hoping he would speak to her or approach her. Once she’s warned him, Sawyer thinks Jules is a little strange and warns her to stay away from him and his family’s restaurant.

Jules goes undercover sneaking around their restaurant parking lot and scoping out the scene; she even begins wearing disguises and sneaking out at night, secretly driving the pizza delivery truck and parking down the street.

Jules is forced to tell brother Trey about her visions. Trey thinks she may need to see a doctor but agrees that he won’t tell their parents. Jules begs him to give her until Valentine’s Day…she’s figured out that the accident will happen on that day and she must warn Sawyer one more time, even if it means she’ll never have a chance with him.

Is Jules seeing the future? And what caused that rift between her family and the Angottis anyway? Why can’t they bury the hatchet and move on? Why is her father so angry when he catches Jules talking to Sawyer? Can Jules change the future? And what about her family’s past?

I loved, loved, loved Jules DeMarco! She's funny, self-deprecating, quirky, sweet, caring, and a little unbalanced. Jules is a spunky list-maker and a real go-getter. Readers will root for Jules and Sawyer to work things out and get romantic; book 2 promises even more romance.

The ending leaves the reader balancing precariously at the edge of a steep precipice-- a real cliff hanger. Teens will be sorry when this book ends and breathless for the urgent release of book 2. McMann has another winning series with Visions. I can see how this YA novel would make a great teen movie; are you listening, Hollywood?

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. One long, romantic, steamy kiss, but prime time television features kisses like this one. Some light profanity and the term virgin and virginity are brought up, but Jules is a “good” girl. Jules’ brother Trey is gay but no mention of anything sexual or inappropriate, just that he may be crushing on Sawyer.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

High School Pick: Butter


Butter
by Erin Jade Lange
Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers
2012
294 pages

Poignant and real, Butter will resonate with teen readers who have ever had a weight problem or known someone who battles food demons.

For morbidly obese Marshall, life revolves around food. He can easily eat an entire bag of Doritos, a sack of M&Ms , a tub of ice cream and still have room for more. The saxophone is the only outlet he has from food--that, and chatting online with Anna. Anna thinks she’s talking to a boy from another school who plays the saxophone; she has no idea she’s talking to the fat kid in her class.

School is misery for Butter (Marshall). No one really talks to him, and he has no friends. He sits alone in the cafeteria, shunned by the pretty, the popular, and the slender. He has a special bench he sits on since he can’t fit in any of the regular seats.


Butter gets angry when he sees a news report of how an airline will begin charging overweight people for two seats instead of one. Butter sets up a website and calls it “butterslastmeal.” He invites others to comment on his plan to literally eat himself to death on New Year’s Eve.

He expects to get insults and rude comments, but instead he finds popularity for the first time. Mean guys who forced him to eat an entire stick of butter, and then nicknamed him Butter are now his BFF’s. They move his bench to their table and seemingly care about having an actual conversation with him. Students rally around Butter’s plan; they have a morbid fascination to see if Butter will go through with his suicide plan.

Anna is waiting for New Year’s Eve when she will finally meet “Saxman,” her internet crush. Butter plans to go to the party on New Year’s Eve where all the events will unravel. Will Butter go through with it? What if he does? What will happen if he doesn’t?

Highly recommended grade 8-up. Some language, some drinking at a party, coke is mentioned but no one actually has it or does it, bullying, and some mature themes. I purchased this book for the library but would warn others that the language issues and underage partying may be offensive.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for the library. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Non-Fiction Pick: Texas Got It Right!


See a story about the book here

Texas Got It Right!
By Sam Wyly & Andrew Wyly
Foreward by Walter Isaacson
Melchor Media
2012
176 pages with index
Full color photos

Okay, I admit it. I am a bit biased being a Texan and all, but Texas Got It Right! This quick read pays homage to that pioneer, secessionist spirit Texans are so proud of, and for good reason, it turns out.

Did you know that Texas has the most miles of public roads of any state? Texas has the greatest number of airports and miles of frieght railroads? Did you know the convenience store was invented in Texas and the fast food hamburger—our very own Whataburger born in Corpus Christi? If you folks have never had a Whataburger, you’re really missing out. Their green chili double cheeseburger is simply sublime!

Not only #1 in freight, Texas has become #1 in exporting kerosene, cement, concrete, molasses, crude oil, aluminum ore, gasoline, plastics and sorghum. Texans, at heart, are still cowboys, and Texas leads the nation in beef production. Texas leads the nation in energy production and produces more wind energy than anyone else as it does in shale gas and natural gas.


As enterprise and industry come to Texas so do people. “In the last decade, 850,000 Americans moved to Texas, while 1.5 million fled California.” New residents flooded into Houston and the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro areas to seek employment. Corporations are leaving California in droves and moving into Dallas and Austin areas. J.C. Penney, Bubba Gump Shrimp, and Tenet Healthcare have all become Texans companies. Apple and Google have expanded or moved their headquarters to Texas, too.

Texas has always been known for its wild-cat spirit and maverick ways, but was celebrated by General George S. Patton who said, “Give me an army of West Point graduates and I’ll win the battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies, and I’ll win the war.” Texas A & M Aggies sent 14,000 troops into WWII and 29 Aggies became generals.

Texas can also brag about being home to Whole Foods, Mary Kay and Southwest Airlines. The home of America’s team--the Dallas Cowboys-- is in Texas. Friday night lights happen every fall Friday in Texas towns all over the state, and colleges clamor for Texas high school players.

All in all, Texas Got It Right!
Highly, highly recommended for any fact or trivia lover and any Texan will eat this up!
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Magic Most Foul


The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart (Magic Most Foul)
by Leanna Renee Heiber
Sourcebooks Fire
2012
336 pages


From the publisher:

· Foul Magic: In DARKER STILL, Natalie steps through a painting and discovers that magic and demons exist in 1880 New York City. Find out what makes a story have just the right amount of magic, mystery and suspense as Leanna lets us in on key elements that make her stories so thrilling.

From the author:

My love of historical fiction was always entwined with my fascination with fantasy and the paranormal. The Victorian era is a perfect time to entwine spirits, ghost stories, magic and more because the time period was so fascinated with those topics. So I’m tapping in to a part of the Victorian psyche just by infusing my tales with fantastical themes. The trick is always balance. One aspect of the novel can’t entirely dominate over the other; my world-building on the magical sense can’t outweigh the development of characters, suspense aspects can’t get in the way of growth for a character, characters have to grow within their circumstances and I have to find the most tension-filled way to do so while still making it “believable”. If the magic, suspense and mystery can all work together to flesh out the historical world, to reveal character and to keep the plot humming along then I’ve created a finely-tuned novel. All the elements of a book have to take turns and pass the relay torch of the journey smoothly and equally.

A lot of help comes in the editorial department, and my editor was key in really helping me trim off the extra fat that didn’t further the plot or tension. A good book requires a few good exterior eyes that can see to the meat of the novel and bring it forward. I’m very good at taking direction and I think that makes me not only a better writer but also someone an editor wants to work with. Also, knowing your characters intimately; what makes them tick and also what makes them scared, it helps draw the reader along in suspense when the character dynamic is viscerally strong. I think the way Natalie’s nightmares play into the Magic Most Foul saga gives the reader a very intimate view into private fears and horrors, and that helps ratchet up the tension from one chapter to the next. My favourite genres as a reader are Fantasy, Mystery and Horror, and I’m not invested in the story if there isn’t a romance somewhere within the plot. I merely have blended all my favourite genres together into one series, and because I want to give each genre equal play, it ends up balancing out.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ghostly Pick: Unbroken (Ruined series)


Unbroken (A Ruined Novel, book 3)
by Paula Morris
Scholastic
2012
291 pages

Spooky and satisfying, Unbroken takes the reader back to New Orleans and the French Quarter. Rebecca Brown is seeing ghosts again; one in particular—a handsome young boy with startling blue eyes. He asks for her help in finding a lost locket entrusted to him by painter Edgar Degas.

Frank worked the docks in both New York and New Orleans. He was on his way to deliver the locket to artist Edgar Degas’s cousin’s home in the Quarter when he was murdered. As a ghost, Frank can’t pick up or deliver things—he needs a human to intervene on his behalf. When he sees Rebecca walking with Lisette—a ghost she helped last year—he knows that Rebecca can see ghosts and will likely help him.

Rebecca arrives in New Orleans with her friend Ling and her father—who is in the city for work. She can’t wait to see Anton—a boy she was crushing on. The fact is—he can’t wait to see her either. He tells her that Toby may be in town and will probably cause trouble for them.

As Rebecca gets closer to finding the locket, Toby closes in on her. Ghosts are popping up everywhere, some friendly like Frank and others not so friendly at all.

Morris paints a picture of New Orleans with its moss hung trees, lively jazz bands, raucous street festivals, the din and clamor of the Quarter, and its ghostly architecture and lonely graveyards with family mausoleums and statues of saints and angels. Publishers Weekly raves, “A haunting love letter to New Orleans.”

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. Anyone who loves a ghost story will love the Ruined series.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my library. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)