Book Review – Fatal Fortune

 

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Fatal Fortune
A review by Catherine H. Armstrong

As an avid reader, one of my favorite things in the world is a book that’s part of a larger series with repeating characters. Picking up where the last book left off always feels like visiting old friends, and it’s always fun to check in with the gang to see what’s new. It’s no surprise, then, that I was excited to get my hands on the newest Abby Cooper mystery, this one entitled Fatal Fortune.

In this twelfth installment of the Psychic Eye series, Abby finds herself defending the reputation of her best friend Cassidy against what can only be described as damning evidence. Cassidy is caught on surveillance footage killing a man in cold blood. But, as Cassidy tells Abby, “It’s not how it looks.”

When even Cassidy’s FBI husband doubts her innocence, it’s up to Abby to feel out the ether and use her intuitive abilities to find Cassidy and clear her name…even if it puts her own life and freedoms at risk.

Fans of Laurie’s Psychic Eye series are sure to love this latest edition. It’s fast-paced and has the reader sitting on the edge of his seat throughout every page. The twists and turns keep the reader guessing, and it’s truly not until the last few pages are turned that the reader fully grasps the complexity of planning that casts suspicion on Cassidy in the first place.

New readers to this series can rest assured that they can pick up in the middle and not feel the gaping holes of missing background information that often accompanies a book in the midst of a larger series. One of the things Laurie does best is bring a new reader up to date on the characters without boring long-time fans with what feels like extraneous information. She gives exactly enough information to refresh the memories of old readers while bringing new readers up to date.

Fatal Fortune is definitely a good read and one I’d recommend to both longtime fans of this series and those unfamiliar with it. It’s simply a great summer read!

Book Review: Scary School Book 3 – Northern Frights

9780061960987_p0_v2_s260x420Scary School Book 3:  Northern Frights
A review by Catherine H. Armstrong

A couple of years ago, I was on a mad search for a book that would appeal to my then 7-year old son.  He was going through a period where he didn’t like to read, and his attention span was so short that reading to him was not only a challenge, but pure torture for me.  I knew I’d have to find something that would capture his interest so completely that he’d be glued to the story and beg me to turn the pages.  After an endless Google search using search words like “great boy books” and “hilarious chapter books for boys,” I kept stumbling upon one title over and over:  Scary School by Derek the  Ghost.

Once the Scary School title had popped up for about the fifteenth time, I started to look a little closer at the title and found that it had received rave reviews from hundreds of different reviewers – both kids and adults alike.  It didn’t seem to have a bad review, and so I took a leap of faith and ordered the book.  The result:  It was a complete hit!  Not just for my son; but for myself…my husband…my teenage daughter…and eventually the entire 2nd, 3rd and 5th grade classes at Bamber Valley Elementary this past May when the school was fortunate enough to receive a personal visit from the author.  We just couldn’t get enough!  Teachers were reading to their students and enjoying the books; parents were reading to their kids; and kids who had professed a dislike for reading were literally devouring the book.  The school library ordered several copies of the first two books and the wait-list to check them out was so long that the media specialist wasn’t sure they’d be able to get through the list even if they’d had another few months of school.  The books were that good!  After all, who could possibly get enough of a school run by monsters, where just making it to the end of the day without being eaten was considered to be a “good day”?

Scary School is back, now with its third installment:  Scary School:  The Northern Frights.  And oh boy are readers in for a treat!

Fans of the first two Scary School books will see a return of their favorite characters:  Charles Nukid, the newest kid at Scary School; Jason Borjees, a hockey fanatic who always wears a hockey mask and just happens to carry around a chainsaw at all times; Fred Kroger, who has razor-sharp fingernails and assumes that all-things-scary must be a dream; Petunia Petals (Yup!  We learn her last name in this book!), the purple girl with the endless swarms of bees; Dr. Dragonbreath, a ginormous dragon-teacher at Scary School who is simply biding his time until you break a rule so that he can eat you; and the painfully shy Penny Possum, who becomes so terrified that she plays dead to avoid confrontation.  They’re all back, and they’re just as fun and colorful as in previous books.

New in this book is Lattie the Ninja Girl, who is hands-down my favorite character of any of the Scary School books!  Lattie was trained by a Ninja Master and is amazing!  She’s brave, swift on her feet, and can catch a spitwad from across the room with just two pencils held in her hand like a set of chopsticks.  And she’s wise, spouting off Zen-like advice reminiscent of the Karate Kid’s Mr. Miyagi.

In this newest installment of Scary School, six students are selected in an exchange program to attend the scariest school of all:  Scream Academy!  The only human student to ever survive is Scary School’s own Principal Headcrusher, and the students will need to rely on their wits – and especially each other – to come out unscathed.

Kids will love this book for the same reasons they loved the original two Scary School books:  the characters are fantastic and the story-line is fun!  Parents will love this book for the same reasons as their kids, but they’ll also find laugh-out-loud passages that carry inside-jokes that only parents of the 80s will get (i.e. Fred Kroger, Jason Borjees, and the spooky aspiring writer, Steven Kingsly).  More than that, though, parents will like this book for the lessons that are hidden within.  In order for the students of Scary School to survive Scream Academy, they’ll have to learn to work together.  There are strong themes of friendship, not judging others by how they look,  and – my favorite – not being afraid to stand up for your friends when they’re being teased or bullied.

This title was released today and is currently on order at the Rochester Public Library (and already has 3 reserves!).

Come back tomorrow for our exclusive interview with Scary School author, Derek the Ghost!  Asking some of our questions will be 9-year old guest contributor and Scary School fan, Logan Ackerman.  You won’t want to miss it!