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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The 39 Clues

Goooooooooooooooooood Day, dear readers! Sorry it took so long, lost track of time - my week was hectic! Any who, I've picked a good one this week - The 39 Clues (They rotate between authors, but Rick Riordan, who wrote the Percy Jackson Series and the Kane Chronicles, wrote the 1st book). Well, books 1-10 anyway. Contrary to popular belief there are only 10 books, not 39. There's also the 11th book, which is an odd one - it's like a prequel that you need to read the other 10 first to understand. It kinda tells the history of the Cahill family as time goes on. Then there's Cahills vs. Vespers, which is the extension series. But, as for books 1-10...

Meet Amy (14 - the bookworm) and Dan (11- the pranker/computer-savvy kid) Cahill, two orphans living in Boston, MA with their terrible great Aunt Beatrice. The only thing they really enjoy is their visits every-other weekend to see their grandmother, Grace. But even seeing her is about to be taken away from them - Grace is an elderly woman, and her life is coming to a close. At Grace's funeral, Dan and Amy are brought into a room of Grace's mansion with many other of their relatives. Here, they find a video message from Grace, at first just stating general knowledge about their family: that it consists of 4 branches - Thomas, Janus, Lucian and Ekaterina (Ekat for short), and that each branch is pretty much rivals. What they don't know is they didn't just disagree on trivial family disputes, but individuals from each branch have been competing for the ultimate prize - virtually unstoppable power in a currently unknown form. But it's not out in the open: Generations of Cahills have been hiding it, by burying clues all over the world. The competition is vicious, and its life or death. They are all offered a choice: 1 million dollars each... or the first clue. They figured that if they chose the money, Beatrice would find a way to take it from them, and they would go back to their normal lives. So they decide to dive head-first into the clue hunt. With Beatrice furious and unwilling to help, they can't travel the world without a guardian. They decide to turn to their former au pair (the only one they actually liked), Nellie Gomez. Together, the team is the underdog, but the others soon find out they can't afford to ignore them.

The authors do a great job of intertwining world history with Cahill family history. It really sparked my interest in some of the countries they visited - you might even learn a thing or two :).

A cool thing about this series is you solve the puzzles along with the characters: not only in the story, but in the physical book itself! There's clues in the cover and pages that can help you unfold what will happen later in the book. It actually really exhilarating :). They are a bit short compared to the books I normally read, but the multitude of them makes up for it.

These are really thrilling, and keep you on the edge of your seat. I really recommend these if you like solving puzzles or mysteries, and travel as well  :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Mysterious Benedict Society

Hi, everyone! This weeks post is for Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society. I came across one of these three books last week, when I saw my friend carrying one around (as we book worms do when we find a good book :) ). I hadn't seen the first one since I was in 5th grade (I'm in 8th grade now) when Ms. White introduced us to them. I was so happy to see that she was reading them.

Meet the remarkable intelligent Reynie (Reynard) Muldoon, an "average" eleven-year-old boy with average features, who lives in the Stonetown orphanage.  In fact, he is so intelligent that he needs a special tutor to teach him at the ophanage. One day while reading the paper, he comes across a newspaper add calling all children with special abilities to take a written test to asses their logic and bravery. Reynie moves on to the next level, along with George "Sticky" Washington (on account of his photographic memory), Kate Weatherall, an agile and resourceful girl, and Constance Contraire, a rather rude and tiny individual. On their last test (which, of course, all four pass), they are brought to Mr. Benedict's house by one of his assistants, "The Pencil-like Woman", later known as Number Two (this is also when you meet Rhonda, Mr. Benedict's other assistant). Mr. Benedict, a genial (vocab word!) fellow with a green plaid suit and the condition of narcolepsy, gives them a secret mission to complete. The children are to act as his spies at Mr. Curtain's Institute (aka The institute) and become one of his privileged students in order to get as much information as possible. They are to communicate through morse code by flashing a flashlight out the window if their bedroom. His main goal is to destroy a machine called the Whisperer, that can affect peoples' memory, ability to think, and even their thoughts - a tool that should not at the disposal of someone like Mr. Curtain.

This is an adventurous, intellectual, and overall phenomenal tale, as all three in the series are. Even though it's mainly action/adventure, there's tons of puzzles to solve, so it keeps you engaged through the whole book.

This is really one of my favorites, I highly recommend them! Stay tuned for more great reads :)