Review: The Dare by Brett Williams

Walking to school the day before Halloween, Davey and Dennis spot a cat hanging in front of the old, abandoned Bentley place.  Dennis tells Davey the story of how the Victorian house is said to be haunted after old man Bentley killed his family several years ago and that their ghosts still live within.  Davey is hesitant to believe his friend’s story, but later that day when they return to see if the cat is still hanging where they last saw it, Dennis still insists that it is true.  About that time, Davey’s crush from school, Lacy, shows up and asks what they are up to.  Dennis accuses Davey of being chicken and not wanting to go check out the house with him.  Being teenage boys, this starts a back and forth argument and ends up in a DARE!  Not wanting to look bad in front of Lacy, Davey agrees to the dare, but not in daylight where they could get caught going into the house.  They all agree that the next night, on Halloween, when they are out trick-or-treating, that Davey and Dennis will go into the old Bentley place, but what will they find inside?

Brett Williams’ The Dare is a very fun Halloween read!  The first part of the book is basically setting up the scene of who is who and getting the “dare” initiated.  It also sets the stage for the “haunted house” that Davey and Dennis are to investigate.  The second part of the book is where the kids are going around trick or treating, which is a lot of fun as you get to witness the antics of kids of all ages and also foreshadows to dangers ahead as Lacy and her friend run into a couple of creepy characters that are in search of the Bentley place.  And the last part of the book takes place when they finally reach the Bentley place and Davey and Dennis venture inside.  Williams does an excellent job with the flow of the story and building up to the final scenes of the book.  This book seems to be aimed towards a young adult audience, but I think that fans of horror at any age would enjoy this great novel.  Highly Recommended!

Contains:  Violence

Review by Rhonda Wilson

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Review: Sleepless by Thomas Fahy

After a trip to New Orleans, the students of Saint Opportuna High begin to have nightmares: horrible nightmares about killing people. The only problem is that they aren’t just nightmares. After several nights, the students wake up to realize that they actually have killed people. Emma Montgomery and her friends, who have all had these nightmares, decide that they have to stick together and stay awake long enough to figure out what is happening. They need to know who – or what – is causing this, and how they can stop it before any of them kills…or ends up dead.

Fahy has written an excellent tale that will make it difficult for readers to feel safe dreaming afterward. It is well written, the characters are believable, and the reader will be drawn into the story by the frightening atmosphere that the immediacy of the action creates. The incorporation of flashback sequences is excellent, giving snippets of background information precisely when it is needed. The dream sequences are also well done, giving the story a whole other dimension of horror. The only drawback is that those who have read a lot of horror novels or murder mysteries may find the story slightly predictable. Overall, it is a satisfying read and will appeal to a fairly wide audience, including both YA girls and some YA guys. Recommended for public library YA horror collections.
Contains drug use, violence and murder

Review by Stacey L. Wilson, Master of Library and Information Science candidate at The University of Western Ontario.

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Review: Devoured by Amanda Marrone

Megan just wants to make sure that her new boyfriend, Ryan, stays out of the clutches of his smitten best friend, Samantha. That’s why she’s working for the summer at the Land of Enchantment, an amusement park filled with fairy tale princesses. But when the ghost of her twin sister, Remy, begins to show up more and more, forcing gruesome visions on Megan, she is not sure how long she will last. Luckily, her co-worker, Luke, can also see the ghost and might be able to help Megan figure out what Remy is trying to tell her and help her to move on. However, Megan’s new friend Ari has a thing for Luke and Luke has a thing for Megan, which makes for a very tricky situation. Megan has to help her sister and keep everyone’s jealousy at bay before something bad happens…but can she?

Marrone delivers a finely woven tale – a fairy tale and modern horror story – all in one frightening package. The story has many layers that interact very smoothly and create an atmosphere that is at times chilling and at others sad or uplifting. Written in the present tense with a skilled hand, the story is also given a thrilling sense of immediacy. The dynamics between friends and the family relationships, which are key to the story, are very believable as well, even given Marrone’s inclusion of elements of the fantastic. Devoured will appeal primarily to YA girls and is a novel that some will definitely want to read more than once. Recommended for public library YA horror collections.
Contains violence and murder.

Review by Stacey L. Wilson, Master of Library and Information Science candidate at The University of Western Ontario.

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Review: Monster’s Proof by Richard Lewis

Ten year old Darby Ell is brilliant at mathematics, but not so good at being liked. Intrigued by the “thingamabob conjecture” his aunt Ludy discovered just before she went bananas, he becomes obsessed with proving it. As he works on it, the mathematical construct, which calls itself Bob, starts to communicate and interact with him, and even takes on substance. At first, Bob seems friendly to Darby, but Bob’s need for truth, order and beauty takes on a sinister tone as it begins to alter an imperfect reality. Darby’s older sister Livey is having math worries of her own- she’s flunking algebra, and about to get kicked off the cheerleading squad. Luckily, Darby and Livey have guardian angels, of a sort. Aether is Darby’s companion as he travels through Hilbert space and hyperdimensions looking for a way to control Bob, and Johnny guides and protects Livey as she searches for her lost brother.

Nothing is quite as it seems in Monster’s Proof. There’s more to Darby than math, and there’s more depth to Livey’s character than one might expect from a cheerleader. The book often says that math is truth, but while Bob might be truthful, he isn’t trustworthy- he is selfish and manipulative. Other characters may be flawed, or have “messy” relationships, but there’s the possibility of redemption in the love that they share. Echoes of Madeleine L’Engle’s  A Wrinkle in Time resonate through Monster’s Proof, in particular a moment near the end where Darby’s mother has to identify the “real” Darby, but it’s clear that Lewis’ intent is much different, and his tone is much darker. Lewis also uses humor throughout the book, not just as a device, but as a way to move the story forward. He had me cheering for mathematically challenged Livey at the end! Since Livey and Darby are both point-of-view characters, Monster’s Proof may appeal to both genders. It’s worth a sell to teenage girls, who might pass it over because of the cover or title. Not only does Livey defeat a mathematical demon(something I wish I’d been able to do in algebra), but her romance with Johnny is reminiscent of Bella and Edward’s. Boys will enjoy a fast-paced read that involves NSA plots, tearing around hyperdimensions with a fractal sword, a conspiracy to take over the world, and an underdog coming out on top. With this book, libraries have a chance to make room on the shelf for something a little different from the endless parade of YA vampire novels. Recommended especially for middle and high school library media centers.


Review by Kirsten Kowalewski

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Review: Groot #1

G4551039-groot_1_coverroot and Rocket are hitchhiking across the galaxy for a visit to Earth. Rocket is only there for support, of course, and witty repartee with our limited-vocabulary hero. Groot wants to visit Earth because he’s never been, well, as a tourist. But along the way their ride breaks down, there are (endangered) space sharks, alien invaders, terrorists, and bounty hunters. But as Groot says, it’s not the destination so much as the journey, right?

This is quite the fun comic with hopeful (near hippy) Groot and bitter, short-fused Rocket trapped in space. A lot of other Marvel comics focus on Earth, here writers get to play in space, literally since these characters are a sci-fi Abbot and Costello. There’s plenty of amusement and imagination fuel for younger kids and older. Recommended, 10 and up.

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Review: Teen Titans volume 2: Family Lost by Geoff Johns

tt2With the Titans newly reformed despite the adult heroes’ disapproval the team begins to act less as punishers of evil and more like a support system for a bunch of kids abandoned—or worse—by their parents. If they even have them.

The Titans get a mysterious phone call that Rose, the cast off daughter of the villain Slade, is in trouble. They arrive in time to help foil an assassination attempt on her, but are then knocked out. When they recover Rose is gone.

After the rest of the Titans finish escorting a pair of super villains to Alcatraz for San Francisco (and Super Boy finishes at school, and Robin finishes with Batman) the team assembles for brainstorming in their big mission—finding Raven, who appears to be reaching out to them for help. “Appears” become void when they literally begin hearing her screams. Raven is in the sadistic hands of the newest Brother Blood, who seeks to use her to open hell on earth, literally because she’s the daughter of a demon and his doorway to the realm. What was a pressing goal becomes an immediate mission (what with the water turning to blood and plagues of screaming birds and all).

The team has to fight a cult, and happens to run into Slade and the new Ravager, none other than Rose, twisted by the same drugs as her father plus his vile manipulations. Slade says he’ll help them defeat Brother Blood…if they give him Raven to slaughter.

This volume has a ton of bad guys, a ton of action and loads of teen angst. One can hardly wonder why all our heroes seem so depressed and anxious if this is what their teen years looked like. Also there’s this building element of nihilism, since it’s almost easier for all these characters to battle to the death or lay down their lives, rather than actually live them.

While a lot of younger kids were brought in to the super hero fold with the cartoon Teen Titans (and they should have been, I’m a big fan.) this is not the same Teen Titans. This band is sunk much deeper into a shadowy crack of the DC-verse and the mood and tension from these scarred, struggling heroes might be too much for younger readers.

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Review: Arrow Season 2.5

by Marc Guggenheim, Keto Shimizu, Brian Ford Sullivan and Joe Bennett

arrow25Personally I always find tv and movies more fun when you can tell the creators, actors, and crew are having a lot of fun with it. One of the reasons why Marvel fan culture has been more interesting to me.

This book is loads of fun. They took great care to tie it into the show cannon (even stating in the introduction that this IS cannon), and using the show writers to write the comic script. This volume hits on all the past fun points—Brother Blood, Slade, Arsenal gets his costume, Malcolm Merlyn plots some stuff, and there’s a side plot with Diggle and the Suicide Squad.

The tones are spot on as well. Oliver struggles with letting others help him when Arsenal gets shot busting a drug ring. Diggle leads the Suicide Squad on a covert mission to save young girls. And most importantly Felicity awkwardly charms her way right into Oliver’s heart.

Arrow is past third season, but this is still a fun fleshy read, worth seeking out and adding to a collection. The writing is great, the art is wonderful, and it offers a little bit of a patch for those off season withdrawls.

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Review: Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender

Alexis, a budding photographer and anti-popular-kids activist, lives in the oldest house in town. Like all old houses, this one has a long and strange history, and some very odd things begin to happen after a photo shoot in the backyard. Her younger sister, thirteen year old Kasey, starts behaving very strangely:  her eyes flash from blue to green, she has violent outbursts, becomes utterly obsessed with dolls and has no recollection of any of her weird behavior. Strange things also happen in the house: the air conditioner stays on, even with the breaker turned off, and strange lights hover near the bedroom windows. Alexis is worried about what’s happening: is she going crazy, or is there something evil causing all of these strange things? Most of all, can she stop her sister before she hurts herself…or anyone else?

This is very much a can’t-put-it-down-‘til-I’ve-read-it-all kind of book. Although some of Alender’s description reads like a textbook tutorial, especially when elaborating on subjects like photography and microfiche, she creates an engaging atmosphere and draws the reader in, evoking the same emotions in the reader as the characters are feeling. The family and peer relationships are very real, although Kasey often comes across as much younger than she is, and is often treated by the characters as if she were half their age. There are excellent twists in the plot and the book was very satisfying on the whole. Recommended for public library YA horror collections.

Contains: violence.

Review by Stacey L. Wilson, Master of Library and Information Science candidate at The University of Western Ontario


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Review: ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Charlotte Usher is friendless. She wants to be noticed, but her classmates, including handsome, popular Damen Dylan, don’t know she’s alive. And then she chokes to death. Charlotte has unfinished business, though, and she ends up in Dead Ed with other teenage ghosts. She is sure that going to the Harvest Ball with Damen will resolve her issues, but that’s a challenge, since she’s dead. .

Charlotte is pathetic, but she isn’t sympathetic. She admires popular and beautiful Petula, whose main personality traits are vanity, viciousness, and super-sized ego. She uses her ghostly invisibility to stalk Damen, and she even convinces Petula’s defiant goth punk sister, Scarlet, to let Charlotte possess her so she can use Scarlet’s body to get close to Damen. But Damen turns out to have a little more going on under the surface than the standard popular jock, and Scarlet actually starts to like him herself.

Readers with a dark sense of humor will enjoy ghostgirl. Occasionally subtle, often sharp, and in places, almost slapstick (Scarlet’s bizarre tryout for the cheerleading team while possessed comes to mind), ghostgirl has subversive appeal. The story is seeded with descriptive details and contemporary references teens will appreciate. The book’s design is unusual and visually striking, with a “ghostgirl” in silhouette on the cover, and elaborately framed epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. Hurley is also an independent filmmaker, and as the events speed along, with acrobatics, car accidents, and ghostly antics taking center stage, it’s easy to see that the book could translate well to the silver screen. The growing depth of Scarlet and Damen’s characters, and the awkward beginnings of their friendship are probably the most interesting part of the story, but it is Charlotte’s first attempts at real friendship that take the story beyond satire. Ghostgirl is not a book that needed a sequel, but Hurley managed to leave a door open for one, and ghostgirl: Homecoming is due out this summer. Recommended for high school library media centers and public library teen collections.

Contains: mild sex, lighthearted treatment of death, destructive behavior, possession.

Review by Kirsten Kowalewski

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Justice League Season 1 Episode 13


“The Brave and the Bold Part 2”

When Central City vanishes Wonder Woman, Jo’nn, and Hawkgirl go to investigate, unaware that Green Lantern and Flash are already in the thick of things. Following the trail to a similar energy signature  in Africa (with Batman’s help) they end up in just as much danger as Flash and Green Lantern–in xenophobic Gorilla City.

With each part of the League only getting part of the picture they have to stop Grodd from destroying Gorilla City as well as protect the secret of existence of an entire race.

The only question I have is, how do the gorillas not know of who the Justice League is? One would think they’d stay up to date on the news of the creatures all around them, which is easy t find since we blare it through the air waves all around them.


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