February 2008


Garrett is dragged out of his bed in the middle of the night, handcuffed, and taken to Lake Harmony, a teenage boot camp, completely against his will.  His parents sent him to this behavior modification camp in order to teach him respect and self-discipline.

Garrett is an extremely bright fifteen-year-old.  School has never been a problem for him.  In fact, he quite often gets bored.  He can finish in three days what it takes most students a whole week to accomplish.  So, he doesn’t always go to school.  Instead he goes to museums or the park to play chess with the old men. 

The main reason Garrett’s parents sent him to Lake Harmony though, is Sabrina.  Sabrina was one of his teachers until his parents found out about their relationship.  His parents got her fired, but didn’t want to go to the police because they didn’t want the story to go public.  His mother is always afraid of how things will look to others.  Garrett doesn’t stop seeing Sabrina and even begins to stay at her house overnight.  His parents feel that Lake Harmony is the only way to break off the relationship.

At Lake Harmony, Garrett experiences isolation, torture, and both physical and mental abuse.  His resists the attempts of the staff to brainwash him into thinking he is wrong about everything.  Garrett doesn’t accept the fact that just because his parents are paying $4000 a month for him to be at Lake Harmony, they are right about everything.

It is clear Todd Strasser has done a lot of research on the topic of behavior modification programs for teens.  There is an afterword describing some of what he discovered and more importantly, a reference list of materials he used to put together his research for the book.  Even though the story wraps up a little too quickly and a little too neatly in the end, it is a story that makes you think.

If you want to know if Garrett can make it through with his self-esteem intact?  Read BOOT CAMP by Todd Strasser.


Mel Odom will be coming to Whittier on March 28th.  He will work with a small group of students on “plotting a novel.”  He has written many books, both adult and young adult.  He’s written books based on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series (WOO HOO) and a series called The Hunter’s League.  He will walk us through the essential elements of a couple of the more popular genres.  The workshop will be hands-on.  Students will get the opportunity to do some writing and I can’t wait to see what they will come up with.  Whittier is so lucky to have Mel Odom coming to our school.  What fun we’ll have!!


Frostbite (Vampire Academy, Book 2)

FROSTBITE picks up where Vampire Academy leaves off.  Rose, a dhampir and guardian, and Lissa, her Moroi best friend, are attempting to get through high school with the added pressure that comes with being a vampire in a world that doesn’t know they exist.  Lissa is the last member of the Dragomir royal family and a Moroi.  A Moroi is a vampire, but a vampire that doesn’t kill to get blood.  They take blood from willing donors and have the ability to use magic that comes from the elements.  Usually a vampire only has the ability to use powers from one element.  Lissa is special though – she has developed the ability to use an element that isn’t well known – the element of spirit.  The spirit allows her to heal living things, but causes her to go a little crazy.  Because of this, she must take medication that dulls her use of magic which is difficult for her to accept.  In addition to being Lissa’s best friend, Rose is also her guardian.  Dhampirs can go in the sunlight and are stronger which make them perfect protectors.

At the beginning of FROSTBITE, there is a massacre of a royal family and their guardians.  Rose sees the aftermath when she and Dimitri, her trainer and mentor, go to the house to meet a legendary guardian for a test Rose must take.  This massacre turns the Moroi world upside down and puts everyone on full alert.  The Strigoi are behind the murders.  Strigoi are vampires that kill when they drink blood.  They are stronger than the Moroi and strike fear in everyone.  The most frightening thing about these killings though is the fact that there is evidence that humans have been involved.  With humans assisting the Strigoi there is virtually no safe place for the Moroi.  The daylight isn’t even a safe place to be since humans are free to move around in the sun.

With security at its highest level, St. Vladmir’s Academy makes the decision to require everyone go to a Moroi ski lodge for Christmas vacation.  By keeping everyone together in one place, they are hoping to keep everyone safe.  The exclusive lodge is large enough to accomodate even the students’ family members so everyone seems excited about the decision. 

During this luxurious vacation news of another massacre rocks the lodge.  A group of headstrong students run off to follow a lead about where a group of Strigoi are hiding and Rose takes off after them so she can bring them back.  Rose has learned a lot since the last book.  She has developed SOME self-control and has seen first hand what these Strigoi can do and knows her friends won’t be able to handle them. 

The events that take place on her rescue mission change her perspective on life and about what it means to be a guardian.   Rose’s relationship with Dimitri is as complicated as ever and provides romantic tension throughout the story.  The ending is a little too quickly wrapped up with not much discussion of the deadly group of Strogoi still roaming around or the ramifications of Rose leaving the protection of the “school”, but overall FROSTBITE is even more enjoyable than Vampire Academy, the first book in the series.

CITY OF ASHES is the much anticipated sequel to last year’s City of Bones.  Never have I been more excited to get a book in the mail.  I have to admit, I was looking forward to CITY OF ASHES even more than when I was waiting for Harry Potter 7.

Re-entering the world of the Shadowhunters was thrilling.  Clary and Jace are dealing with their father’s theft of the Angel’s Cup and are continuing to struggle with the fact that they are brother and sister.

In CITY OF ASHES we meet Alec and Izzy’s parents with Mrs. Lightwood being the most prominent.  She is doesn’t trust Jace since Valentine has revealed himself.  She is afraid that Jace is a spy for Valentine and tells him to move out of the Institute.  She also calls The Inquisitor to determine Jace’s punishment for his “alleged” role in theft of the Angel’s Cup.  Neither The Inquisitor nor Mrs. Lightwood believe Jace about the new plan Valentine has come up with to steal another of the Mortal Instruments – the Soul-Sword.  Valentine will do whatever it takes to get it.  His plan, once he has the sword, is to transform it from a sword that will kill demons to a sword that will kill members of the Clave.  The transformation requires the blood of Downworlder children which leads to danger for Simon, Clary’s best friend, and Maia, a member of Luke’s pack.  It falls to Jace and Clary, with the help of Luke and Magnus to engage Valentine in battle to prevent him from accomplishing his goal.

After reading CITY OF ASHES we know a little more about Alec, get to know Magnus better, discover some special abilities Clary and Jace possess, and get a hint that there might be more to Jace’s lineage than we already thought.  Cassandra Clare has the ability to create the kind of emotional tention that I haven’t found since Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight.  You’ll be sorry when you get to the last page and be tempted to turn back to page one and start the adventure all over again. 

Tim, Defender of the Earth!

What secrets does your government keep from you?  Nanotechnology?  Genetic engineering?  In TIM: Defender of the Earth, this and much more is going on. 

Anna Mallahide is the daughter of scientist that works for the government.  She is used to being the new girl at school because her father’s work requires that they move quite frequently.  Chris is a guy who cares more about what people think than about doing what is right.  He wants to be cool, but feels like he really has to work at it.  When Anna and Chris get paired up on a field trip at the Museum their lives become intwined in a ways they can’t even imagine.

While wandering around the Museum, Chris runs into a woman who has been in charge of guarding a bracelet meant for a person that will be the channel for all the life force on the planet.  By the way the bracelet reacts when Chris is near, Mrs. Plimpton determines that Chris is the person she has been waiting for.  It will be up to Chris to funnel all of the world’s life energy to the Defender because danger is coming and the earth is in trouble.  The Defender has been called into action and he can only win if Chris cooperates.

TIM (Tyrannosaurus: Improved Model), is the Defender.  It is up to him and Chris to save the world from Professor Mallahide, Anna’s father, who has developed nanobots that devours everything in its path in order to “improve” the way of life.  While Professor Mallahide’s intentions are true in the beginning, power soon changes the outlook on his mission and he becomes the most dangerous and unstoppable emeny the world has ever known.

With battle scenes like the old King Kong vs. Godzilla movies, TIM provides heartstopping action and an incredibly entertaining storyline.  The lesson of selflessness and friendship run throughout the story and make it clear that sometimes you have to think of others in order to have a life worth living.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, the fourth book in the spectacular Twilight series, is going to be available on August 2nd.  It is available for preorder from Amazon.  I’ve already purchased my copy.

This is the picture that is on Amazon.  Doesn’t she just look sassy?  I love it.

Welcome back to the world first created by Melissa Marr for Wicked Lovely.  A world where faeries exist and roam among humans without their knowledge.  In this companion novel to Wicked Lovely, we get to know Leslie, one of Ash’s best friends.  Since Ash and Keenan defeated the Winter Queen and gained power, peace has reigned between the Summer and Winter Courts.  Ash doesn’t go anywhere without guards and her closest friends are guarded too.

          Leslie has had a rough home life ever since her mother left.  Her dad is usually drunk and rarely comes home.  Her brother is high all the time on a variety of drugs and brings dangerous people around the house.  Leslie learned that the hard way and has the scars to prove it.  Leslie enjoyed the time she isn’t at home whether that means she is at work or at school.
          Niall is Keenan’s, the Summer King’s, right hand.  He often guards Leslie and feels his desire for her growing each time he sees her.  He doesn’t realize she feels the same way about him.  If he knew, it would only make it harder on him to not be able to have contact with her.  Niall can’t physically touch humans.  His touch is as addictive as a drug.  It leaves humans begging for his constant embrace until they eventually go mad.
          Keeping his distance from Leslie becomes impossible when Irial sets his sites on her.  Irial is the King of the Dark Court and feeds himself and those connected to him by taking the emotions of fear, lust, anger, greed, and jealousy from other fey as well as humans.  Since the peace between the Summer and Winter Courts there hasn’t been enough of the dark emotions to sustain the entire Dark Court. 
          Irial has developed a way to feed through a human.  His blood and the tears from the Dark Court Faeries are mixed with ink used to tattoo the person he’ll use to feed.  Leslie has decided getting a tattoo is a way she can reclaim some control over her life and decides on the symbol that will link her to Irial and eventually lead to her death.  Niall must break his rule about human contact in order to keep Leslie safe and ends up falling in love with her.
The battle between the Dark Court and the Summer Court revolves around Leslie.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t know what is going on since Ash doesn’t want her to know about the Faery world.  Ash thinks if Leslie doesn’t know, she’ll be safe.  Instead, Leslie gets the tattoo and feels the immediate draw to Irial where she is used to feed the Dark Court.
          Niall is willing to do everything he can to ensure Leslie’s safety once she is under Irial’s control even if means breaking his ties to the Summer Court.  Can Niall get Leslie’s life back?  Can he win her love?  Will she be any better with him than with Irial?  Read INK EXCHANGE to find out.  You won’t be disappointed.  INK EXCHANGE is just as captivating as Wicked Lovely.  I can’t wait for the third book.

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