Review: The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein

Title: The Crossroads
Author: Chris Grabenstein
Series: A Haunted Mystery | Book 1
Pages: 329 pages
Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (May 12, 2009)
Rating: 2 stars (Leave It!-Choose It!)

GoodReads Synopsis

ZACK, HIS DAD, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father’s hometown, not knowing that their new house has a dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took 40 innocent lives. He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since. During a huge storm, lightning hits the tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn’t over . . . and Zack is directly in his sights.

Award-winning thriller author Chris Grabenstein fills his first book for younger readers with the same humorous and spine-tingling storytelling that has made him a fast favorite with adults.

The novel The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein weaves a ghost story of revenge and death.

The Crossroads was written from multiple third-person perspectives. Literary conflicts included character vs. character and character vs. supernatural. Overall I found The Crossroads to be a rather dull with a flat plot at times. Curiously, there were a great number of plot twists, and while I understood most of them, they did not jar me with surprise as other well done plot twists have. I felt that these plot twists just served to complicate the plot and didn’t really ‘add’ anything to the story.

The story moved rather slowly because it took awhile to establish all the characters who are rather interesting in personality for a middle grade novel. On note of the story: it wasn’t what I was expecting. Like Grabenstein’s book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library it was written with a light tone befitting of a middle grade novel. But I did not expect to find murder, insanity, divorce, revenge, and evil spirit possessing in a novel classified as middle grade.

CAUTION: SPOILER ALERT! Proceed with caution if you’d like to read The Crossroads in the future.

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Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Series | Book 1
Pages: 382
Publisher: Quirk Books; Reprint edition (June 4, 2013)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, blends black-and-white photographs with a haunting dark fantasy.

Sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman lives a relatively ordinary life. But when his senile grandfather, Abraham Portman, calls him frantically for help and raves madly about someone coming to find him, his mundane life is shattered. At the sight of his grandfather’s murder, he beholds a terrifying monster, but even more terrifying: only he can see it.

Seeking answers, Jacob convinces his parents to let him travel to a Welsh island with an abandoned orphanage that might hold the keys to his grandfather’s past and his future.

When Jacob visits the orphanage, which was destroyed by a World War II bomb, he encounters a girl who can hold flames and an invisible boy. Through them, he is drawn into the world of the Peculiars: a group of people with Peculiar abilities who can never age as long as they’re in their time loop.

But there are wonders and dangers in the Peculiar world. Tentacled creatures called hollowgast prey on Peculiars when they can and the wights–hollowgasts who’ve preyed on enough Peculiars to regain a semblance of human life–are planning something new.

Can Jacob embrace his own powers while protecting his newfound Peculiar friends?

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Review: The Mattress Affair (Flint and Steele Mysteries) by Cheryl Landmark

The book, The Mattress Affair,* by Cheryl Landmark describes a family mystery through the eyes of an intelligent dog: Flint.

Flint lives with Meredith Steele, his human companion, in Gros Cap. He is a four-year old black Labrador Retriever and Meredith’s partner in the detective agency: Flint & Steele.

One day, two unsavory relatives pay Flint’s spirited neighbor, Abigail Tunner, a visit. Caleb and his wife (Abigail’s nephew and niece) claim that they want to improve their poor relationship, but Flint thinks that there’s more to this visit. After all, Abigail Tunner is a reclusive person in a small town whereas Caleb and his wife come from Toronto city.

Using his nose and sharp wits, Flint uncovers a malicious plot and ulterior motives. Can he communicate his suspicions to Meredith before it’s too late?

*I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Island of Doctor Libris by Chris Grabenstein

The novel, The Island of Doctor Libris, by Chris Grabenstein explores the mystery of the eccentric Doctor Libris’s library through Billy G.

Billy G.’s parents are divorced so he splits his time between his dad and mom. He’ll spend the summer with his mom . With his mom working on an important paper,hHe expects he’ll be bored out of his mind.

When Billy G. breaks his new iPhone, he’s forced to discover another means of entertainment. He finds it in Doctor Libris’s library. To his astonishment, he discovers that whenever he opens a book and reads aloud, he can hear the story being played out on an island whose purpose his unknown.

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Review: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

The book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein tells a story about twelve twelve-year olds and a library.

After smashing a window, Kyle Keeley is grounded, which means no electronics for a week. So when he learns of an opportunity to attend an exclusive lock-down in the new public  library that is full of advanced technology and games he’s very interested. In order to be counted among the twelve twelve-year olds who can attend the lock-down Kyle must write an essay, but the essays are due the day he finds out about the contest.

Kyle only writes one sentence before his teacher collects his unfinished essay: Balloons. There might be balloons. But through some small miracle Kyle’s essay is picked along with his two friends’ Akimi and Miguel.

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Review: Eldest by Christopher Paolini

The thrilling second novel of the Inheritance Cycle, Eldest, by Christopher Paolini delivers magic, suspense, adventure within six-hundred sixty-eight delightful pages. Eldest is told in alternating perspectives between Eragon, Roran (Eragon’s cousin/adoptive older brother), and Nasuada (Ajihad’s daughter and new leader of the Varden.)

SPOILER ALERT: Proceed with caution if you have no read Eragon yet and would like to.

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Review: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

The fantasy novel, The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani, picks the story off from where friends Agatha and Sophie left.

Back in Gavaldon, free from the rules of fairy tales, the two friends are living out their Ever After. For both girls, they’ll soon discover, Ever After isn’t satisfying enough.

Depressed by the upcoming marriage of her father to a woman who was once her mother’s best friend, Sophie spends a good amount of time sulking. During Agatha and Sophie’s evening walk, she tells Agatha about her mother and how she died broken and betrayed, before wishing that she could see her mother again.

Meanwhile, Agatha keeps dreaming about her prince, Tedros of Camelot, who she left behind in the fairy tale world for her best friend, Sophie. On the day of Sophie’s father, Stefan’s wedding, in a moment of strong emotion her finger glows as she performs magic and makes a wish. Following her wish, arrows begin to fly from the woods and target Sophie.

Sophie hides in the town church, and Agatha, feeling guilty about her wish keeps her company. Before both girls have time to think through the mystery of the arrows, they are once again, unwillingly swept into the fairy tale world. Back at the School for Good and Evil, which following The End to their fairy tale, had reverted to the School for Boys and Girls.

In the School for Girls, two of their teachers, Professor Dovey and Lady Lesso, quickly explain what has happened. Their fairy tale has reopened and the only way to get back home is by using the Storian to seal The End, once more. But there are three catches. One: both of them must mean their ending. Two: the Storian is at the Boy’s school, guarded by a boy who wants Sophie dead. And three: they must do so without arousing the suspicion of a new and dangerous teacher.

Two conflicting wishes reopened their fairy tale. Can a united wish close it?

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Review: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

The memoir, I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, tells the incredible true story of a brave girl who stood up for what she believed in.

Malala Yousafzai lived in Swat Valley, Pakistan. When she was ten years old, the Taliban gained control of her region. The Taliban decreed that girls couldn’t go to school and other unjust edicts. But Malala, who loves and cherishes her education, refuses to stop attending school.

Her father, Ziauddin  ran a school, and raised Malala to stand up for what she believes in. Even though she wasn’t a boy, she knows that she “was the apple of her father’s eye.”. In Malala’s culture, this is a rare thing for a girl.

Starting in 2009, Malala began peacefully campaigning for girl’s education rights. Even when threatened with death she didn’t back down. Then one day, in October 2012, Malala is shot in the back of the head. After visiting several hospitals, she is eventually transported to Birmingham for treatment.

Will she survive the attack and start a new life in Birmingham, England?

I enjoyed this book because of the honest voice of the narrator. The events were also portrayed with great detail and the writing was very good. Most of all, I enjoyed reading about how Malala bravely spoke out and peacefully advocated for girl’s education right.

Rating: Read It!

Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this book in the comments section. Are there any similar books you would recommend?