Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blue Heaven by C.J. Box

Wyoming author CJ Box has a new stand alone novel, a departure from his best selling series about Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett. In another departure from his earlier works this book is not set in Wyoming but in North Idaho, specifically in a part of that state that draws retired law enforcement officers from Southern California, a peaceful area of natural beauty far removed from the crime ridden urban sprawl, a place known by them as Blue Heaven.
The action starts with 12 year old Annie and her 10 year old brother William witnessing a murder as they search for a place to go fishing. On the run from the killers, the children are picked up by a family friend, a retired police officer from California, only to discover that he is part of the plot. As the search for the “missing” children intensifies, the retired police officers offer their services to the local sheriff and effectively take over the search.
Annie and William take refuge in a barn on one of the last two remaining working ranches in the county. They are discovered by ranch owner Jess Rawlins who has problems of his own, namely an ex-wife who cleaned out the bank accounts before leaving, a ranch that can’t generate enough income and real estate developers determined to turn his property into ranchettes. Jess believes enough of the kids’ story to check a few things himself before turning them over to the authorities.
Box again interweaves current western issues such as property development and the infusion of outsiders into small communities with larger themes like good versus evil to craft an enthralling, suspenseful adventure. His characters show that the bad guys weren’t always evil and the good guys aren’t always perfect and in a book that can seem like a modern day western, the good guy doesn’t always get to ride off into the sunset with the girl.
Blue Heaven and CJ Box’s other works are available at the Uinta County Library, 701 Main Street.

Review by Dale Collum

Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz

Are you looking for a good adventure or perhaps a great Christmas present for a nephew or grandson? Read on. I guarantee no one looking for an exciting adventure escape during a long winter’s evening will be able to set this book aside.
Anthony Horowitz is a writer from England who has become quite popular with young readers, particularly boys. Horowitz has been writing since age eight; his books have been published in more than twenty countries and have sold millions of copies. Although his childhood was neither happy nor adventurous, Horowitz certainly developed an imagination that produces stories with wondrous appeal. Young readers quickly discover that Horowitz thinks that 14-year-olds are extremely cool. Alex Rider, his protagonist in this series, is approximately that age.
After his uncle’s untimely death, Alex Rider is recruited by the British secret service, MI6. Using fantastic gadgets provided for him by “the Firm,” a lot of creativity and his own intelligence, Alex manages to complete the missions he is assigned. Although he always manages to escape, it often seems that he is thought of as expendable by those sending him out.
In Snakehead, the newest addition to the series, Alex travels from the slums of Bangkok, through the Australian outback to the Timor Sea. We catch up with Alex Rider as he crash lands off the coast of Australia after a trip into space. (For more about how Alex ended up traveling in space, check out Ark Angel.) He is then recruited by the Australian Secret Service to infiltrate one of the most ruthless gangs operating throughout South East Asia. The gang, known as the snakeheads (hence the book title) smuggle anything: drugs, weapons, even people. Alex agrees to work the mission for the chance to work with the man he knew to be his Godfather. The nearly constant action and clever gadgets will definitely hold the attention of young readers; the convoluted plot will satisfy even die-hard fans of the series.
The action packed Alex Rider novels begin with Stormbreaker, which is followed by Point Blank, Skeleton Key, Eagle Strike, Scorpia, Ark Angel and now the newest addition Snakehead. Anthony Horowitz has written two other series: The Gatekeepers and The Diamond Brothers Mysteries. Alex Rider’s first adventure Stormbreaker has been adapted for a movie.
Check out Alex Rider in the Young Adult area at the Uinta County Library, 701 Main Street, 789-2770.

Reviewed by Claire Francis

Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Tony DiTerlizzi, is a fast paced series with enough “ooooooooh” to keep most children reading--without giving them nightmares. The story begins with the children of the Grace family and their mother moving into Aunt Lucinda’s Victorian home. Mallory, Simon, and Jared see The Spiderwick Estate as old, run down, spider-filled, dusty, with strange noises come from the walls. While checking out the noises, Jared finds a secret room filled with knick-knacks. The room belongs to Thimbletack, a grumpy household brownie that doesn’t like his things disturbed. Jared upsets Thimbletack by searching for and finding a book titled Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. Despite the warnings of the brownie and his brother and sister, Jared keeps the book, setting the stage for the rest of the series.

The Field Guide has a “grossness factor” that many young readers will enjoy. Once you start reading this short diary-like book, you cannot put it down. Now would be a wonderful time to read this fascinating adventure before seeing the movie put out by Nickelodeon and Paramount pictures. The books and movie will entertain as well as teach valuable real life lessons. The Spiderwick series contains 5 volumes, The Field Guide (#1); The Seeing Stone (#2); Lucinda’s Secret (#3); The Ironwood Tree (#4); The Wrath of Mulgarath (#5). Also by this author are supplemental Spiderwick books: Care and Feeding of Sprites, The Nixie’s Song, and Authur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. This series will be loved by both children and adults and can be found at the Uinta County Library.

Reviewed by Michelle Kallas

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Twilight is defined as the period of the day diffused with light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, from sunset to nightfall. It is also a state of uncertainty. This is undoubtedly the state faced by Bella Swan in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.
Bella, a clumsy 17-year-old girl from Phoenix, Arizona is exiling herself to sunless Washington to live with her father after her mother has recently remarried. She expects nothing except unhappiness in her dreary new home, but what she discovers is much more -- what she discovers is Edward Cullen. Bella embarks on an adventure full of danger, secrecy and romance that begins with a glance at a table of teenagers that are too beautiful to be human. There is something not quite right about the Cullen family, but what is it? No one has ever gotten close enough to find out… until Bella. Everyone seems to have a natural aversion to the Cullens that Bella just can’t understand. What she does understand is that something about them is just wrong.
Edward will have nothing to do with Bella until the day she is almost killed in a car accident. Edward, who is in one instant standing across the parking lot and in another pushing Bella out of the way of certain death, can no longer hide his strange abilities from Bella. Edward warns her that a relationship between them will only put her in danger. Bella tells him that it is already too late. The more she knows about Edward the closer she is drawn to him, but how close is too close?
This Young Adult novel is for readers of every age. Suspenseful and thrilling, you’ll find yourself unable to put it down. Stephanie Meyer puts a new spin on a classic narrative by mixing danger, love, and humor in a perfect combination. Bella and Edward are characters that are easy to relate to and hard to forget. Bella’s adventure will have you biting your nails from start to finish. Simply put, Twilight will leave you thirsty for more. This book is available at the Uinta County Library, 701 Main St.

Reviewed by Michelle Kallas