See How They Run

Possible spoilers ahead! If you haven’t read All Fall Down, book one in Ally Carter’s Embassy Row series, you might want to take care of that before reading this post.

This week, I finally made time to read See How They Run, the second book in the Embassy Row series. This sequel picks up pretty soon after the first book concludes. I’m not going to rehash everything that happened in All Fall Down, but I will say that our protagonist, Grace Blakely, has uncovered some shocking truths about what really happened to her mother…and her own part in those events. Now, Grace is dealing with the fallout of what she’s discovered as well as attempting to handle a whole new set of problems. Of course, problems seem to be par for the course when a person’s every move has the potential to cause an international incident. Such is life on Embassy Row.

As the granddaughter of the U.S. Ambassador to Adria, Grace should be used to a certain amount of political intrigue. But nothing could really prepare her for what’s being revealed to her. It’s not enough that she’s just realized that she’s largely responsible for her own mother’s death. No, now she’s learning that her mother was part of some secret society charged with manipulating events for the supposed protection of Adria and the small country’s history, secrets, and continued welfare. Grace is supposed to continue the society’s work, but she’s not sure if she can trust this shadowy organization. After all, how can she trust others when she doesn’t even trust herself?

While Grace is processing this new information–while trying to get a handle on her PTSD–she’s also dealing with new arrivals on Embassy Row. Her brother, Jamie, is visiting from West Point, and he’s brought a friend with him. Jamie is worried about Grace, but his friend, Spence, seems interested in her. Why, she wonders? What could Spence possibly see in the crazy girl that everyone else tiptoes around?

To further complicate matters, Alexei, her brother’s former best friend and son of the Russian Ambassador, is back in town, and he’s not thrilled about the new guy sniffing around Grace. Alexei and Spence come to blows, but surely a simple fight over a girl couldn’t lead to an international fiasco, right? Yeah…think again.

When Spence’s body washes up on the Adrian coast, fingers immediately begin pointing Alexei’s way. Grace is certain Alexei did nothing wrong, and she becomes determined to prove that her friend is being framed. Her friends agree to help her, but how can they possibly prove Alexei’s innocence when all evidence seems to point his way? And who could possibly want to kill Spence anyway? Surely a simple fight isn’t enough to lead to murder. Could Spence have been involved in something else that none of them knew about? Could that have been what led to his demise?

Grace is determined to find the answers she seeks, but she may not be ready for what those answers ultimately mean…for Alexei, her past, her family, or herself. What could her discovery mean for her future in Adria? Time will tell…


Before I give too much more away, I’m going to start wrapping things up. I will say, however, that See How They Run ends on a cliffhanger, and there are huge implications for the third (and final?) book, Take the Key and Lock Her Up. Book three is supposed to be released on December 27th of this year.

If you enjoyed All Fall Down, I think you’ll appreciate See How They Run as well. It shines a light on the darkness within Grace’s mind, and readers get a glimpse at what it might be like for someone who suffers with PTSD. (Although, can we really call it post-traumatic stress when the trauma is ongoing?)

If you like mysteries and political thrillers with a YA twist, this is definitely the series for you. To learn more about the Embassy Row series and other books by the fabulous Ally Carter, check out the author’s website, Twitter, and Facebook page.

Manhunt

Warning: Read Kate Messner’s Capture the Flag and Hide and Seek before proceeding.

Thanks to NetGalley and Scholastic, I was fortunate enough to read Manhunt, the third installment in Kate Messner’s mystery series for young readers, just a little early. The book won’t officially come out until June 24th, but I was too eager to wait that long, especially since the first book in the series, Capture the Flag, is nominated for the South Carolina Children’s Book Award this year. (My hope is to promote the entire series when I encourage my students to pick up the first book.) I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books, and I suspected that the third would be no different. How right I was!

In Manhunt, Henry, Anna, and Jose are once again embroiled in the business of the Silver Jaguar Society, the secret agency tasked with protecting the world’s most valuable art and artifacts. This time, the adventure begins in Boston after it’s discovered that the Serpentine Princes, the bitter enemies of the Silver Jaguar Society, have somehow managed to steal priceless art from museums around the world. How did they manage to pull this off without alerting anyone? And what could be their next target?

Soon enough, the quest for answers takes our trio and their guardians to Paris…and that’s where things really get complicated. It seems that someone within the Silver Jaguar Society is passing information on to the Serpentine Princes, so no one really knows who can be trusted.

One thing is clear, though. Something big is happening in Paris. We’re talking huge here. The bad guys, led by the horrible Vincent Goosen, are trying to get their hands on the Mona Lisa, arguably the most famous painting in the world. While the adult members of the Silver Jaguar Society go off to figure out what to do, they leave Henry, Anna, and Jose in a Parisian bookstore with an enigmatic young man named Hem.

Now, Henry doesn’t quite trust Hem, but he can’t deny that this kid definitely knows his way around Paris…and when the adults mysteriously disappear, Henry and his friends will need Hem’s knowledge to solve their biggest mystery yet. Where is the Mona Lisa, and, more importantly, where are the senior members of the Silver Jaguar Society?

This epic adventure takes these young people all over–and under–the bustling city of Paris, and danger lurks around every corner. These kids will have to evade enemies, decipher clues–written in French–navigate an unfamiliar city, and face their fears to make sense of what’s going on. But what happens when they are betrayed by a supposed ally? When they are separated, and the success of this operation depends on just one kid, one who makes it clear that he just wants to go home?

Can the junior members of the Silver Jaguar Society solve one more mystery? Can they battle treachery, terror, and nearly crippling self-doubt and emerge victorious? Will the Mona Lisa be restored to its rightful place and the Serpentine Princes vanquished? For these answers and more, join Henry, Anna, and Jose on a manhunt like no other!

_______________

Any reader who enjoyed the first two books in this series will find another winner in Manhunt. And, while the previous book cured any desire I ever had to visit Costa Rica, this one definitely made me want to spend some time in Paris. (It doesn’t hurt that the other book I’m currently reading, Just One Day, also takes place in the City of Light.) I hope to make it across the pond eventually, but I hope I don’t have quite the adventure that Henry, Anna, and Jose did!

In a stroke of serendipity, I will be attending an IB conference next week, and I have been asked to bring with me a book that illustrates the IB learner profile and/or elements of international mindedness. I fully intend to share this entire series with my fellow librarians. This series has already taken us to several destinations in the U.S., as well as Costa Rica and France. People from all over the world work together to protect art and artifacts, and, if that doesn’t illustrate international mindedness, I don’t know what does. Hopefully, my colleagues will agree.

Manhunt, like Capture the Flag and Hide and Seek, is a highly recommended purchase for any elementary or middle school library. I hope that we’ll see more of the Silver Jaguar Society in future books. In my opinion, these books illustrate just how much a group of kids can accomplish when they use their wits and work together. This latest book may even inspire readers–no matter their ages–to face their fears and do something great.

For more information on Manhunt and other books by the brilliant Kate Messner, visit her website at http://www.katemessner.com/.

Hide and Seek

Warning: Read Capture the Flag by Kate Messner before proceeding. That is all.

Eleven months ago, I finished reading Capture the Flag, the first book in a new series for upper elementary and middle grade readers by Kate Messner. This week, I finally got around to reading the second book in the series, Hide and Seek. This series revolves around several young people who–along with their parents–are tasked with protecting the world’s art and artifacts. They’re known as the Silver Jaguar Society. In Capture the Flag, as the title suggests, the kids–Anna, Henry, and Jose–end up saving the original Star Spangled Banner. In Hide and Seek, though, their adventures take them far away from home and into the rain forests of Costa Rica…

Just when Anna, Henry, and Jose think that things will get just a little back to normal, their world is rocked once again. A priceless Central American artifact–and treasure of the Silver Jaguar Society–has been stolen. The Jaguar Cup was replaced with a fake, and the members of the Society are in a scramble to find out who took the original.

This mad scramble takes the Society–and its most junior members–to Costa Rica. While their parents take off on what appears to be a hot lead, Anna, Henry, and Jose remain behind at a rain forest lodge to await news. But it seems that the real mystery is at the lodge, and, once again, it will be up to a bunch of kids to save an artifact that means so much to so many.

The quest for truth will lead this merry band through a rain forest teeming with danger. But the danger won’t just come from the elements. No, the real danger will come from those who seek to claim the Jaguar Cup for their own.

How can a group of kids battle against crazed adults bent on claiming treasures at any cost? What fears will they have to face in order to come out on top? And will they finally vanquish the enemies of the Silver Jaguar Society? Join Anna, Henry, Jose, and friends in their quest for the truth when you read Hide and Seek by Kate Messner!

_______________

Hide and Seek was a fun, fast read that, like Capture the Flag, I will recommend to my students who enjoy stories like Indiana Jones and National Treasure. It’s a great adventure story that is sure to keep readers, young and old, engrossed until the last page.

I know some of my students will read this book and want to visit the rain forests of Central America. For me, the book had the opposite effect. Actually, all I had to do was read about one snake, and I was done. When you add in a bunch of ants, rickety bridges, and zip lines,it’s game over for me. No one has ever called me an adventurous sort.

According to Kate Messner’s website and a sneak preview at the end of Hide and Seek, we can look forward to at least one more book in this series. Manhunt is slated for a spring 2014 release, and it continues to follow the Silver Jaguar Society in its search for its most notorious enemy, Vincent Goosen. I look forward to it.

Capture the Flag

Hello, dear readers! 2012 is almost at an end, and this will likely be my last recap/review of the year. (I’m planning to read something completely mindless for the remainder of the year.) Tomorrow, I will do a year-end wrap-up post, but, for now, let me talk about my latest read. It’s Capture the Flag by Kate Messner. This book is a contemporary mystery that is an excellent read for upper elementary and middle grade readers. Any young (or older) readers intrigued by the Indiana Jones or National Treasure movies will find something to enjoy in this first installment in what is sure to be a gripping new series.

A flag has been stolen from the Smithsonian, but this is not just any flag. It’s the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Who would dare to take such a priceless piece of American history? What could the possible motive be? It’s not like this would be something that could be easily sold, so why would someone take something that means so much to so many? That’s what a few curious kids are going to find out…

Anna, Henry, and José are snowed in at the airport in Washington, DC, and, when they hear about the theft of the newly restored flag, they become convinced that whoever took the flag must be snowed in as well. What starts as a way to pass the time soon becomes a quest to uncover a mystery with the potential to shake the nation. Along the way, they’ll encounter a man running for president (who has an odd fondness for Tootsie Rolls), tuba players from Pakistan, a guy with a snake tattoo, and a really large poodle.

They’ll also discover that they share a common bond. Anna, Henry, and José are all descended from artists or artisans who’ve sworn to protect the world’s artistic treasures. So what choice do they really have?! They must find the stolen flag before someone points the finger at the wrong person. But what can three kids do in a crowded airport with tight security? A whole lot, apparently. (As it turns out, airport security–at least in this story–isn’t designed to thwart three pre-teen detectives.)

As these three kids attempt to reveal the truth, they’ll step into a mess with huge ramifications. Can they get out of this safely and still uncover who’s behind the flag theft? And will they be prepared for what they eventually find? Who really captured the flag? Find out when you read this exciting tale of mystery and adventure by Kate Messner!

Even though I’m not exactly thrilled about returning to school on Wednesday, I am looking forward to sharing this book with my students. It has lots of literary allusions that I think many of my students–particularly fans of Harry Potter–will enjoy. I also know of several of my male students who will love this book simply because it’ll remind them of National Treasure. This book, while predictable for many adult readers, will keep younger readers enthralled from the first page. Even younger readers may think they know who is behind the theft, but it’s still a bit thrilling to read how this mystery reaches its inevitable conclusion. I will say, though, that the adults in this book were totally oblivious to what was going on around them. As a fine, upstanding adult (yeah, I couldn’t even type that while keeping a straight face), I was a little perturbed by how little these grown-ups noticed what these kids were doing. Young readers, though, will enjoy that a group of kids got up to all of these shenanigans right under adults’ noses.

If any of this has piqued your interest, I urge you to give Capture the Flag a try. The second book in the series, Hide and Seek, is due for an April 2013 release. You can visit the author’s website or check out her Twitter feed to learn even more.

Clockwork Prince

Even though this post will not be a typical one for me, I will be talking a bit about Clockwork Prince, the second book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy (which is the prequel trilogy to her Mortal Instruments series).  If you haven’t read all of the books that precede Clockwork Prince–especially Clockwork Angel–I strongly urge you to do that as soon as possible.  All of these books are unbelievably amazing, and the events of today only increased my love of these series.

Now, for the good stuff…

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting the one and only Cassandra Clare.  As part of her book tour for Clockwork Prince, which was released on Tuesday (and which I finished reading last night), Ms. Clare paid a visit to Greenville, South Carolina.  I live just a few miles away from Greenville, and I was understandably excited about meeting one of my favorite authors.  The event was sponsored by a local independent bookstore, Fiction Addiction, and held in a spot called the Hangar at the Runway Cafe (near the downtown airport, obviously).  And I have to say it was one of the most well organized book signings I’ve ever attended.  (I went to see Stephenie Meyer at a Barnes & Noble in Georgia four years ago, and it was absolute chaos.  Imagine thousands of people crammed into a B&N for upwards of five hours.  Shudder.) 

Anyhoo, Cassandra Clare entered the Hangar and answered questions from the audience.  The first few people who asked questions even got a free t-shirt.  I was one of those people…and here’s the back of the shirt:

I asked who she would pick to play Magnus Bane if she had any say in the movie casting.  Her answer both surprised and delighted me–Darren Criss, who plays Blaine on Glee.  She said that his ethnicity matched Magnus’, and he seems to have no problems kissing a boy.  For those of you who’ve read the Mortal Instruments series, you know how important this is.

Ms. Clare answered lots more questions on how she overcomes writer’s block, using outlines in her writing, how much influence she has over the upcoming City of Bones movie (very little, sadly), the love triangle between Will, Jem, and Tessa in Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince, other books she would recommend, how she would encourage aspiring writers, where her ideas for her books came from, the real-life settings used in the books, the inspiration for the character of Magnus Bane (one of my favorites), and much more.  Throughout the question-and-answer session, Ms. Clare kept the audience laughing and made us fall more in love with her and her wonderful stories.

Then, it was time for the autographing to begin.  I took seven books to be autographed–City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Steampunk!–and Ms. Clare graciously signed all of them.  Check it out:

 

Everyone who attended also received a cool Shadow Hunter poster. 

Christmas came early for yours truly this year.  I got to meet one of my favorite authors, tell her how much I loved her books, and I even had the opportunity to recommend a few books to her–Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series was at the top of my list.  This was an awesome afternoon for Knight Reader.

Now, I’m sure you might be wondering a little about Clockwork Prince, the latest book in the Infernal Devices trilogy.  Well, I’m not going to tell you much about the book because there would be spoiler alerts all over the place if I did.  I will tell you, though, that we learn more about why Will is such a butthead most of the time.  We also delve into Mortmain’s past and what he might be planning for the Shadow Hunters.  For me, however, the driving force in this book was the dramatic love triangle between Will, Jem, and Tessa.  It was infuriating, powerful, and traumatic–for them and for me.  I just hope their situation resolves the way I want it to in Clockwork Princess.

Speaking of Clockwork Princess, it has an expected release date of December 1st, 2012.  (Yes, we have to wait nearly a year for it.  Curses!)  Also, there are two more books in the Mortal Instruments series to look forward to:  City of Lost Souls, due out May 8th, 2012 (and the cover should be released soon), and City of Heavenly Fire, due in September of 2013.  There’s also another Shadow Hunter series in development, the Dark Artifices, which will take place roughly five years after the events in City of Heavenly Fire.  So, there’s lots more Shadow Hunter goodness to look forward to.

If you’d like to learn more about Cassandra Clare and her amazing books, you might want to check out these websites:

You can also follow Cassandra Clare on Twitter @cassieclare.

I will leave you now, dear readers, for I am spent.  It has been a great day filled with books, authors, and fellow word nerds.  I wish every day could be so awesome.

The Red Pyramid

When I was in the third grade, I went on a field trip to view a museum exhibit on Ancient Egypt.  Since then, I’ve been completely captivated by the subject, particularly Egyptian mythology.  I think it’s fascinating to study how ancient cultures, and not just those in Egypt, created gods, goddesses, and entire belief systems to explain the world around them.  (I think I’ve mentioned before that I also have a fondness for Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology.  Fun stuff.)  Anyway, my latest read, The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, delves into Egyptian mythology, and Riordan gives this world as much life as he did for Greek mythology in the Percy Jackson series and the Romans in The Lost Hero.

In The Red Pyramid, we meet estranged siblings Carter and Sadie Kane.  When their mother died, the siblings were split up.  Carter traveled the world with their archaeologist father while Sadie lived with their maternal grandparents in London.  This Christmas, though, the brother and sister will be reunited for what they think will be an uneventful holiday with their father.  They could not be more wrong.  And it all starts when they blow up the British Museum.

As you can imagine, an explosion in a popular museum is a pretty big deal.  It’s an even bigger deal when the explosion causes your dad to be imprisoned in a sarcophagus and several gods to be released into the world.  It seems that dear old Dad was up to something, and it’s up to Carter and Sadie to figure out what’s going on and set things right before the world devolves into complete chaos.  But how?  How can two kids who barely know each other unite to stop Set, one of the gods who was released, from destroying all of North America?

Well, Carter and Sadie aren’t exactly normal kids (as you may have guessed).  They are descended from pharaohs, and have the potential to be very, very powerful, especially when it becomes clear that a couple of Egyptian deities have taken up residence in their heads.  Carter and Sadie are also being assisted by their Uncle Amos (who may or may not be on their side), the cat goddess, Bast (who Sadie always knew as Muffin, a beloved pet), a magical baboon named Khufu, an albino alligator called Philip of Macedonia, and a few gods, goddesses, and magicians that have agendas of their own.

Carter and Sadie must stop Set from completing construction on his red pyramid before sunrise on Set’s birthday.  If they don’t, the pyramid will become a magical force that will ensure the spread of chaos and desolation across the continent and eventually all over the world.  Can Carter and Sadie, two kids with very limited knowledge of their magical heritage, possibly defeat such a powerful force?  What sacrifices will they have to make to even the odds?  Will Carter and Sadie (and their lovely assistants) be able to restore balance to the world, or will chaos reign forever?  Read The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan to find out!

I truly enjoyed how Riordan melded the modern world to Ancient Egypt in this book.  It was interesting to read about how the Egyptian belief system evolved, and devolved, over time and how Carter and Sadie were charged with restoring it to its former glory.  I appreciated how many of the gods and goddesses were viewed as neither good nor bad.  Each being had both flaws and redeeming qualities.  Additionally, I liked how Carter and Sadie grew closer together throughout the book.  They were at their most powerful when they were united.  I also loved the subtle allusion to the events in the Percy Jackson series at the beginning of the book.  (It’s one of those blink-and-you-miss-it kind of things, so be on the lookout.)

As I’m sure you probably know, The Red Pyramid is the first book in a series, The Kane Chronicles.  The second book, The Throne of Fire, is already out, and I plan to read that within the next couple of weeks.  The third book in the series is scheduled for a spring 2012 release.  If you’d like more information on this series or author Rick Riordan, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/my-books/kane-chronicles.aspx.  Have fun!

The Mockingbirds

I picked up my latest read simply because I heard rave reviews about it.  It’s not my standard fare.  There are no aliens, vampires, werewolves, mermaids, or other (allegedly) mythical creatures involved.  This book is realistic fiction, and deals with a subject that many people are skittish about bringing up–date rape.  The Mockingbirds is a powerful book that demonstrates how much power students can have when they truly decide to stand up for themselves.  I think any female, and even male, readers will learn something from this book, especially that the lack of a “no” does not equal a “yes.”

Alex Patrick can’t remember what happened.  She knows she was at a concert and she had too much to drink.  She remembers flirting with a guy, Carter, but that’s where things go fuzzy.  How did she end up in Carter’s room?  What happened last night?  And why is he acting like they had the time of their lives?  Alex isn’t sure what’s going on, but she knows that something has gone terribly wrong.

When Alex tells her roommate and sister about the events of the previous evening, they bring up the worst four-letter word Alex can imagine–rape.  But she’s not sure.  If she doesn’t remember saying no, is it really rape?  Alex doesn’t want to face what happened to her, but after Carter begins telling anyone who will listen about what supposedly happened that night, Alex decides, with the help of a few friends, to take her case to the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who act as the law at the prestigious Themis Academy.

Themis Academy is known for producing Ivy League students.  So, of course, the students at Themis are above all of the typical teenage pranks, cruelty, and drama.  Most of the teachers and administration at Themis are convinced that their students are above reproach and could never do anything truly horrible.  The only thing that gets a student kicked out of this school is failing a class.  Well, the students know what really goes on.  They know people are bullied, attacked, treated unfairly, and even driven to suicide by other students.  That’s why they have the Mockingbirds.  If the adults won’t right the wrongs at this school, the students will.

As Alex and the Mockingbirds proceed with their case against Carter, Alex learns more about why the Mockingbirds exist, how the organization was created, and how they really enforce the “law” at Themis.  Throughout this process, Alex begins to return to a somewhat normal life:  She has a sort-of boyfriend, she is preparing for a huge piano recital, and she’s moving on.

But sometimes it seems as if she’s drowning in what happened to her.  She’s remembering more and more and beginning to doubt her decision to go to the Mockingbirds.  How can she ever be sure about what happened that night?  What will happen at the trial against Carter?  Will she always be known as that girl who was raped?  Find out the truth when you read The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.

As I said before, this is a very powerful book, and it’s even more powerful when you learn that the author is writing from personal experience.  (Read the author’s note at the end for more information.)  The connections to To Kill a Mockingbird don’t hurt either.  While I was a bit disturbed at how most of the adults were portrayed in this book, I can honestly admit that it’s probably not too far off the mark.  From my own experiences in high school, I can say that most of the teachers have no idea what’s going on.  Even if they do, there’s not much, if anything, they can do about it.  I wish there had been an organization similar to the Mockingbirds when I was in school.  Maybe I wouldn’t have been the target of bullies so much.

I really encourage young adults, especially girls, to read The Mockingbirds.  It’s a great story, and resources on date rape are provided at the end of the book.  I would caution younger readers that this book does contain mature content, so this book may not be appropriate for middle school readers.

For more information on The Mockingbirds or author Daisy Whitney, visit http://daisywhitney.com/blog/, where I just learned that there will soon be a second Mockingbirds book.  Can’t wait!

Clockwork Angel

So, I’ve finally finished reading the first book in Cassandra Clare’s prequel trilogy to the Mortal Instruments series.  The prequel trilogy is referred to as The Infernal Devices, and book one is Clockwork Angel.  I’ve been looking forward to this book for quite some time since I am a huge fan of the Mortal Instruments series.  I was not disappointed.  Clockwork Angel was just as action-packed as any of the books in the Mortal Instruments series.  I was invested in the characters, Clare’s attention to detail again amazed me, and I was bummed when the book ended.  I am eagerly anticipating the next book in this awesome series, as well as any other book that Clare publishes (and that includes City of Fallen Angels, released April 5, 2011).

Clockwork Angel takes readers on a journey to Victorian London.  Tessa Gray has just arrived from America to look for her brother, Nate.  He has disappeared, and she just knows that something bad has happened to him.  (She’s not wrong.)  Almost immediately, Tessa is spirited away by the Dark Sisters.  These two creepy women force Tessa to face what she truly is if she ever wishes to see her brother again.  And what is Tessa?  No one really knows, but it seems she has the power to transform into another person.  Tessa did not realize she had this power, and she does not know how it relates to her parents, her brother, or what is happening to her now.

Just when Tessa is ready to give up all hope, she is rescued and taken in by a group of Shadowhunters, or demon killers.  These fierce warriors agree to help her find her brother if she will use her newly discovered ability to help them uncover the evil at work in London’s Downworld.  Tessa agrees, and during her time at the Shadowhunter’s London Institute, she grows closer to those who have taken her in:  Will, the arrogant, beautiful boy who keeps everyone at a distance (sound familiar?); Jem, the silver-haired, silver-eyed boy with a mysterious secret; Jessamine, who sees her life as a Shadowhunter as an unbearable burden; Henry, the “mad scientist” of the group who is always tinkering with new inventions; and Charlotte, the head of the Institute, who is fighting for her own measure of control in a world where women must battle for a voice.

As a mysterious plot is uncovered that could destroy the Shadowhunters forever, Tessa must make some tough decisions.  Will she try to remain the girl she once was and deny her new-found powers, or will she embrace what she is?  Will she succumb to those who wish to use her abilities for evil, or will she help the Shadowhunters?  The choice may not be as simple as Tessa, or anyone else, thinks.  Tessa may even have to choose between the only family she has left and the new friends who have given her sanctuary in her time of greatest need.  What will she do?  Read Clockwork Angel to find out.

It should come as no shock to anyone that I loved this book, especially since, at some points, I was able to draw parallels to that masterpiece of cinema, the Star Wars saga.  (Mainly the original trilogy…I’ll be the first to admit that the Star Wars prequels were less than spectacular.)  Anyway, I really hope you’ll read this book as well as the Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, and, coming soon, City of Fallen Angels).  I just wish the next book in the Infernal Devices series, Clockwork Prince, were being released tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see where this story is going.

For more information on Cassandra Clare, The Mortal Instruments, and The Infernal Devices, visit http://cassandraclare.com/cms/home.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Greetings from Library Land!  (Wouldn’t that be a great theme park?)  My latest read is E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.  I’ve read some of Lockhart’s stuff before and enjoyed it, so I had a feeling I would like this book.  ‘Like’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.  This book was awesome.  Lockhart created a character that is atypical from nearly every other female protagonist in YA literature.  A feminist for the adolescent crowd, if you will.

Frankie Landau-Banks is a sophomore at the elite Alabaster school.  She has a popular senior boyfriend, people seem to like her, she gets good grades, etc.  She should be happy with her life, right?  Well, not so much.  Frankie is tired of accepting the roles society has chosen for her.  When her boyfriend says she’s adorable, she wonders why he doesn’t say that she’s brilliant.

Anyway, Frankie knows that her boyfriend a several other of the school’s most popular guys are members of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, a secret all-male society in which her father was a member during his days at Alabaster.  Frankie is tired of being left out of the club’s dealings, so she decides to infiltrate it and pose as their leader.  It works, and these guys have no idea that she’s the one pulling their strings.

Of course, as is the way of things, chaos inevitably ensues, and Frankie and the Bassets must face up to what has been going on.  Will Frankie be exposed in her quest for power?  Will she go back to being a docile little girl content with her place in the world?  What will happen to the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds?  Read The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks to discover the damage an ambitious, brilliant, angry high school sophomore can wreak on the unsuspecting world around her.