Girl on the Run by Abigail Johnson

Good grief, I read this back in April (3 months ago). I’m not sure I have more to add here than in my extremely brief GR review: “I’m not a big thriller reader, so this YA entry in the genre was just right for me-very fast paced, not too long, and not graphically violent (although there is plenty of beating up.) They mystery is a little far out, but I enjoyed it enormously.”

Kind of like the Naturals series by Jennifer Barnes–I’d rather read this type of story for a YA audience than an adult thriller. In this story the title tells it all-mysterious never making connections with people, moving a lot, suddenly racing out of the house on the run, the mom clearly has secrets galore, who should she trust??

The President’s Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth

vampireThis probably seems like a book I wouldn’t read, but I loved it. I really liked the first one and just recently remembered it and saw this sequel was on the shelf at the library and grabbed it. After reading The Rocks, which was like an elegant multi-course meal that I savored and enjoyed for a long time with all kinds of nuances and flavors, this was like sitting on the couch greedily consuming a whole bag of Doritos. Nothing subtle, slow, or elegant about it. But deeply enjoyable and satisfying. Some people (not me) might even say kind of trashy. It was super. Were you a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Then read this. Do you like conspiracy theories? Read this. Do you like a fast paced book that you can read in two days and don’t have to think about? Read this.
What I found so interesting about this (and liked) is that this isn’t just some kind of horror (which I don’t read) gore fest for no reason. In this sequel the President’s Vampire, Nathaniel Cade, and his handler Zack, are facing just the latest threat to America, a horrific supernatural fighting machine. And it’s not some isolated occurrence-it all has to do with arms deals, the Middle East, shadow government, and all kinds of stuff that gets in your head a bit and makes you start to wonder about some of the horrors of the world (though it’s doubtful reptilian humans are behind it for real.) One of the things like I about the way this is written is that Cade has lived through many presidents, so there are often references to what really happened during other administrations (i.e., who shot JFK and why.)
It’s all told with a sense of humor and bit of fun, which makes any of the gorey action easy to handle.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

naturalsThis was terrific! I don’t watch crime shows on tv and have always found them super unappealing.  That said, I love Elementary and Sherlock and the amazing ways that Sherlock Holmes and his partner unravel crimes and can tell things by details that most of us never notice.  And that’s very much what this is.  Cassie is a teenager who lives with her father’s family ever since her mother’s gruesome murder five years earlier. The body was never found and the crime remains unsolved, haunting Cassie.  One day and FBI agent invites her to be part of a special program-she will live in a house with other teens who have amazing skills and they will help the FBI with cold cases.  She is told that she and the other teens are “Naturals.”  Without trying they have amazing abilities (not supernatural), in Cassie’s case she can profile people.  She knows at a glance all sorts of things about them and it’s completely intuitive and logical (just like Sherlock Holmes.)   There’s lots of bloody descriptions, but the creepiest part is the alternating chapters that use  a serial killer’s voice.  There is a serial killer on the loose and it seems there might be a connection to Cassie’s mother, which of course makes Cassie want to get involved in solving it.  This had great suspense and thrill and a good setup to what will surely be series (and yes, in this case, I approve.)

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Hub Reading Challenge: PPYA

starI’ve known about this book for quite a long time and even attended the studio recording of the audiobook. And yet, I just wasn’t interested in reading it. I’ve had it checked out for a month and only somewhat unwillingly picked it up yesterday morning because I thought I should give it a try. Well. Apparently I just didn’t know what this book was all about because it was fantastic. I have an hour’s time this afternoon while I wait for my daughter in dance class and I couldn’t even save it for then. I had to just spend the morning reading it until it was done because I was so caught up in it.

The first thing that made this so compelling was the fact that it’s set in a boarding school! Present day, London. Rory has moved there from New Orleans and is going to spend a year there while her parents are on sabbatical.  Just as she arrives and is dealing with fitting in a murder occurs that mimics the first murder of Jack the Ripper. A second soon follows and the city is caught up in copycat Jack the Ripper panic. I’ll pause here to say that Rory becomes involved and it’s a great thriller and I totally recommend it. If you don’t mind spoilers scroll on down past picture and I’ll tell some details that might explain it better. Otherwise, just take my word for it, enjoy the photo, and go check this book out of the library (and p.s. the cover was one of the things that turned me off. I hope it’s better in the paperback version.)
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

OK, so what I didn’t know that made the book completely exciting was that due to a near death experience the first night at school Rory can see ghosts. And it turns out that she’s not the only one-that others who can are part of a super secret, denied by the government, but run by them, organization. Ghost police, if you will. And without realizing she was seeing a ghost, Rory saw the murderer who is terrorizing London and becomes involved with this ghost squad in trying to stop him before he kills his next target, who is Rory herself.
This was an exciting and suspenseful mystery. The supernatural element was not totally crazy. There’s some historical stuff in there, which was nice, and there were loads of the type of boarding school details that I just eat up.
Really great.

Brain Jack by Brain Faulkner

Plowed through this in a day! Very exciting, fast paced book.  It reminded me a little bit of Ready Player One, just because of all the computer stuff, but it was actually quite different.

In the future Las Vegas has been obliterated by a nuclear blast.  There really aren’t a lot of “crazy future things” except that and the use of “neuro-headsets”.  These neuros are caps you wear to operate your computer-no mouse, no keyboard, you just think what you want and it reads your brainwaves and happens.  Sam is a genius hacker who attracts the attention of the Cyber Defense Division of Homeland Security.  There are many pages describing Sam’s work, which is kind of weird.  It reads like you’re reading about a group of people in fighter jets-wingman, pointman, watch my back, look out you’ve got them on your tail, I’ll repel them by throwing a blaster at them, etc.  I mean, frankly, it made literally no sense to me that it was actually describing computer things. This was one of those cases where you just read for the action and don’t even try to understand what is happening.  And it was easy to do that because it was all very exciting and dangerous feeling and I could see it like a movie in my head.  Sam and his colleagues discover an insidious threat to the entire civilization and it’s up to them to save the world before it is literally too late.

I thought the ending was kind of strange and a bit unbelievable, but I was satisfied nonetheless and recommend this.

You’ve Been Warned by James Patterson

I cannot believe James Patterson gets paid as much as he does. Seriously. This is the only book of his that I’ve ever read and maybe his early stuff is awesome and he’s just phoning it in now, or maybe he always wrote stuff like this.  (This novel is actually co-authored, leading me to believe even more that he’s just coming up with a story idea and farming out the actual writing.)

The writing was just really kind of lame. And for a 370 page book there were very few words on each page, and there were something like 95 chapters. Because near the end each chapter was only a page long. I’m not kidding. And every chapter ends with some brief “shocking” sentence like “Only she wasn’t alone.” Every time I read one of those things I could hear “bum bum BUM” in my head and imagined David Caruso on a boat with sunglasses. Continue reading