Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

“In my hefty elf sack, your nightmares now keep. Better think twice before falling asleep.”
-The Nightmare Elf

welcometothedarkhouse_lauriestolarzThis chilling, nightmare-filled story takes place when seven fans of the famous horror film director, Justin Blake, enter an online contest. They are required to write about their worst nightmare, and the winners get the chance to stay at his legendary B&B, Dark House, featured in his movies. The fans also get to meet the famous man and sneak a look at his upcoming movie. Delighted to find they have won, the horror hopefuls, Ivy, Parker, Shayla, Frankie, Garth, Natalie, and Taylor, set out to have the scare of their life. Spending a weekend in the Dark House appeals to most of them like a vacation home, filled with effects that make the house really seem haunted and mysterious. However, their fun and games take a twisted turn when they are taken to an abandoned amusement park. Embodying the spirit of Blake’s movies, the park is like his own movie set with his wildly creepy characters running around. The seven lucky winners discover they must face their worst nightmares and survive them if they want to be set free.

This book grabbed my attention right from the start. It’s description of horror and thrill left me wondering about my own nightmares. I knew I sure wouldn’t last one night in that house, not with its scare tactics and lonely halls. Stolarz uses her characters’ different perspectives to create this nail-biting world. As a big fan of horror stories, I was really anxious to see how the ending wrapped everything up. I have to say I was a little disappointed that I was left with so many unanswered questions, but overall the plot line was very intriguing.

I encourage readers who like to be scared to give this book a try. I know some horror stories are a gamble because it doesn’t end the way the readers hope. But Welcome to the Dark House is definitely one of my favorites and I would love to read it again.

-Sabrina C, 11th Grade

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Gone Series Review

gone_coverOn a seemingly normal day, the town of San Perdido is suddenly hit with a phenomenon that results in everyone over the age of fifteen disappearing…all adults are just simply gone! To the confusion of the remaining children, a giant force-field now surrounds the entire area of Perdido Beach, preventing anyone from entering or leaving.

Abandoned and frightened, the children are exposed to the threat of conflict, danger and death, and life with no adults or form of authority. With no electricity and phones and televisions no longer working, the town becomes a prison for the “surviving” children who must find a way to maintain order amidst the chaos. To top it off, the children start developing strange powers, some even deadly, that causes extreme manipulation and sides to be chosen. The ensuing fight becomes a catastrophic battle for survival, while the thought of time running out looms over everyone—because the day you turn fifteen is the fateful day you disappear, just like everyone else.

Written by Michael Grant, the Gone series is breathtaking young-adult series that’s packed to the brim with mystery, action, suspense, and (of course) romance! The books are titled: Gone, Hunger, Lies, Plague, Fear, and Light. In my opinion, the series is fast-paced and frighteningly gripping, for Grant is able to successfully write a dark, brutal account of a world of children with no authority that describes the death and moral dilemmas they must face.

The characters are all complex yet relatable, because they are all kids, just like you and I, who are struggling with the reality of the world they are thrown into. Even though there is some mature content, especially in the last three books of the series, I would certainly recommend the Gone series, which can be considered a modern-day Lord of the Flies, to those over thirteen years who are fans of The Hunger Games and hard-core dystopian-science fiction admirers!

-Kayle W., 10th grade

Book Review: The 9th Judgment by James Patterson

9th_judgmentThis is the ninth book in the Lindsay Boxer series so I recommend reading the previous novels before reading this one. However, if you don’t want to read the first eight books, you can jump right into this one.

Unsuspecting of being stalked by a murderer, a mother and her infant head towards their parked car. Upon reaching their car the man trailing them approaches the mother and asks to use her cellphone. As she turns to hand him her phone she finds him holding a gun. Panicking, she offers him money but to no avail. Without any mercy the unknown killer guns the woman and her child down.

Around the same time, a burglar sneaks into a million dollar home. Quietly she sneaks into the master bedroom and skillfully removes dozens of sparkling jewels from an open safe. Without making a mistake the burglar is about to leave when she accidentally tips over a table. Startling the sleeping movie stars, she has to find a quick way to escape.

Startled awake by the loud crash or her table, Casey Dowling jumps out of bed, only to be shot down. The next day her death is all over the news, and her husband claims that the burglar shot her while leaving.

How is Lindsay supposed to solve a crime where the only evidence is a cryptic message scribbled across a windshield in lipstick? The killer is quick, stealthy, and skilled. In addition, Boxer is suspicious of Casey’s death.

Can the burglar be somehow linked to the ruthless killer? And who killed Casey Dowling?

I got a kick out of this book. Along with being a suspenseful thriller, it was one of my favorites out of the entire series. I highly recommend this book for a fast-paced, easy read.

-Marilyn J., 9th grade

Book Review: The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

face_milk_cartonHow would you react if you found out that you were kidnapped because there is a picture of you as a toddler on an ordinary, everyday milk carton? 15-year-old Janie Johnson recognizes her photograph on the “Missing Child” side of a milk carton in the young-adult novel, The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney.

After identifying her picture on a milk carton at lunch, Janie is consumed by the notions of her kidnapping. As the story unravels, Janie discovers that “her parents” are actually her grandparents and her Mother was part of a cult when Janie was born. Temporarily relieved, Janie is still curious as to why her name on the milk carton said “Jennie Spring.”

Slowly unraveling the mystery of her past, Janie discovers that she was kidnapped by her “Mother” as a young girl and finds out that her real parents are in New Jersey. The end of the book leaves you with Janie talking to her real Mother. Does Janie leave her “adoptive” parents? Does she actually meet her biological parents? Does she ever find the women who abducted her? To find the answers to all these questions, one must read this book and the entire Janie Johnson series.

Reading this book for English, I was interested that it wasn’t mainstream like some other classical works. The storyline of the book is great, in my opinion. The execution could have been slightly improved. I liked how the first book ended in a cliffhanger and then you would have to read the next one and then the next one to find out what becomes of Janie. The last book did not have a very conclusive ending, but it was satisfactory enough. If you are interested in the mystery genre, then the Janie Johnson series is for you.

-Anmol K.,

Book Review: Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike

sleep_no_moreHave you ever wished you could have magical powers? What would you desire? The power to see the future? That’s exactly what Charlotte Westing can do. But that is also what gets her into trouble.

In an attempt to change the future when she was six years old, an accident killed her father and permanently injured her mother. She has spent the past ten years fighting every vision that comes to her, pulling an imaginary black curtain over the scene. No one else knows her secret, except for her Aunt Sierra. Charlotte has lived her life covering up this secret, claiming to suffer from sudden migraines. But one day, a vision stronger than ever before greets her, one that she doesn’t have the strength to fight: One of her classmates being murdered. Afraid to tell her aunt, the only other Oracle she knows, Charlotte keeps this to herself.

After the second such vision, she gets a message that someone can help her stop these murders from occurring. Eventually, she gives in and receives help from someone, who makes up his name as Smith.

Also during all of this, her crush since fourth grade, Linden, becomes more interested in her, claiming she helps distract him from the brutality of the murders.

And then, like every good book, everything becomes twisted.

I loved the creativity of this novel, and I found it excruciatingly hard to put down. I could not wait to find out what happens next. The novel has so much going on. It was interesting to learn that this novel was dedicated to the survivors of Newtown and the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.

-Leila S., 9th grade

Book Review: The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

third_twinLexi and Ava are identical twins, but sometimes… they are triplets.

When they were little, they made up a third twin, Alicia. Alicia was blamed for everything like when things were broken or stolen. Now that they are seniors in high school, their little game has gotten more serious. They pretend to be Alicia when they go out with boys who are hot but not the dating type. The kind of guys they would never consider being with in real life. However, Lexi wants to put an end to Alicia for good when one guy Alicia dated turns up dead. Ava thinks that as long as they follow the rules for Alicia (always wear the diamond pendant; never sleep with any of the guys; and after five dates, they are gone), everything will go back to normal. Before that can happen, another boy is killed, and DNA tests and camera proof reveal that there is only one possible suspect: Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist. Lexi is on the run, and she has to find the truth before another boy dies. Because either Ava is the real killer…or Alicia is real.

When I first heard about this book, I knew I just had to read it. I even thought the title was interesting. I mean who’s ever heard of a third twin? The story is very compelling and holds so many surprises. The biggest surprise, by far, is who the killer turns out to be. Right away, the story picks up. I just couldn’t stop reading it. This book is meant for ages 12 and up. There is some mature content and language present, but other than that, I suggest you go out and get this book when it comes out on February 24, 2015.

-Sabrina C., 9th grade

Book Review: Made For You, by Melissa Marr

made_for_youWhen Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she has no idea how she got there. She remembers everything that happened right before the accident but can’t put the pieces together, until her best friend, Grace, tells her that she was hit by a car. They soon figure out that it wasn’t just an accident.

Faced with the mystery of finding out who did it, Eva discovers a creepy new ability: she can see a person’s death when they touch her. She doesn’t know how or why she can do this, but she is determined to use it as a tool to find who the murderer is.

Meanwhile, her old friend, Nate, comes in and helps her and Grace. Nate hasn’t talked to Eva in years and is surprised when he suddenly shows an interest in her. However, she must put aside their troubled past in order for them to work together to find the maniac who tried to kill her.

Made For You was very interesting. I couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it sooner than I thought. There are many surprises throughout the book, but the biggest surprise is definitely who the killer turns out to be! This book is meant for teens ages 13 and up. I would really stick to that suggestion, given the mature content in the book. This review is based on an advance reader copy– the book comes out next month. If you love suspense and mystery, I recommended you look for it.

-Sabrina C., 9th Grade