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by Tony Abbott
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.00
199 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very nice school drama, June 18, 2009
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This review is from: Firegirl (Paperback)
This was a pretty nice little school life drama. It moves pretty quickly, with something interesting happening in every chapter, which to me is a huge plus with any book. And another huge plus - I could completely relate to the characters.

But let's start from the beginning. Firegirl follows Tom, a regular 7th grade kid who is like many other kids - he is somewhat envious of his best friend, Jeff, and he has a crush on a girl named Courtney. Tom regularly daydreams about being a hero and saving Courtney from various dangers, ultimately resulting in a romance between the two. In the real world, he can't imagine being close to her, especially since she's the most popular girl in his class.

Then one day, Jessica, a girl who was burned horribly in a fire, enters the class, as her parents don't want her to miss too much school inbetween receiving treatments at a hospital. From that point, everything begins to change.

The other kids are repulsed by Jessica, Jeff in particular. Jeff makes nasty comments about her when she's not around, and can't stand her presence. Tom, on the other hand, sees Jessica as a human being and feels sorry for her, and begins to like her more when he (as part of a favor) visits her house. Tom ends up torn between Jeff's constant belittling of Jessica and his lack of compassion for a horrible burn victim, and his own desire to do the right thing.

The plot may be relatively simple (Tom himself even sums it up in a few sentences near the end while reflecting on the events), but what makes it really work is the characterization. I could definitely relate to Tom. While he may kind of be the "Everykid", so to speak, he's actually more of the quiet, shy kid, who comes from a stable two-parent household, but still envies the cooler kids who have more material goods than him. Tom is afraid to speak up and stick up for Jessica, but does try to redirect meanspirited conversations away from her, to mixed success.

Jeff is pretty much the kid who's cool among his peers and has all the coolest stuff everyone wants, but secretly hates his home life. And sadly, it's left its toll on him. I couldn't help but wonder if Jeff would have more compassion for others if he hadn't been bouncing between his neglectful father and his mother, who he also doesn't have that much respect for. The scene where Jeff burned a toy car and compared it to Jessica, while Tom tries desparately to change the subject, rang painfully true.

And Jessica, even with horrible backstory, is no saint. She's as imperfect as any human being, and even displays some rudeness and bluntness, as if trying to hide her pain. That only makes her more real as a person, and more likeable.

In all, Firegirl may not be a fantastic or complex story, but with its believable characters, situation and dialog, it's an excellent experience as a book. I'd recommend it.

A Murder for Her Majesty
A Murder for Her Majesty
by Beth Hilgartner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $5.43
118 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, fast-moving suspense story, March 6, 2009
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A Murder for Her Majesty doesn't waste time getting started. Right in the first chapter, Alice is running away from home, and gets brought in by a group of choirboys, who decide to hide her in their house and even come up with a plan to disguise her as one of them. It's through flashback and background information that we find out how she got there.

Alice had witnessed her father being murdered by two men, who claimed to be working for the Queen of England. Scared for her life, she heads off to London and arrives at a cathedral, only to learn to her horror that the criminals have arrived there as well; in fact, they work there.

Now she's in even more danger, as she's a member of the very choir of that cathedral, with murderers at high positions of power. Luckily for her, not all of them know what she looks like, even when they see her looking them right in the face. But complications arise, bringing with them many close calls, before things really do get bad for Alice.

The story moved faster than I was expecting for a 240-page book. Something that advances the plot and especially the suspense occurs in just about every chapter. In fact, I went from reading about 25 or 50 pages a day, to finishing off the last 140 pages in my last day of reading the book. The suspense and pacing had just ramped up to the point where I just had to keep going. Definitely the sign of a good read!

The characters come alive pretty well, too. Each of the choirboys Alice stays with has their own personality. Most are mischievous, though one really doesn't like the whole situation and tries to out Alice several times (before the boys discover the kind of danger she's really in). Alice herself at first felt like a tabula rasa, but over time, she showed more personality and especially defiance and anger, which tended to get her into trouble. Character flaws work well to heighten the suspense, making the characters not only entertaining individuals, but important plot-drivers as well.

In all, it was a fun book. I've read comments that the time period is a bit anachronistic, but not being well-versed in 16th century (or any century) England, I wouldn't know what was out of place. If you're able to overlook - or not notice - that, what you've got here is a fun, fast-moving suspense story.

Samantha Stone and the Mermaid's Quest
Samantha Stone and the Mermaid's Quest
by B. B. Hunt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.95
18 used & new from $9.07

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly good story!, December 27, 2008
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I bought this book having no idea what to expect. The cover art is bland, the title is generic (as well as somewhat childish sounding), but this turned out to be one of the biggest examples of "don't judge a book by its cover" I've ever experienced firsthand.

For one, the content is a bit harsh for a book with "mermaid's quest" in its title. Some mild swear words are dropped, and a few characters - including a child - die. But let me back up a bit.

The story is about a clumsy, somewhat lacking in self-esteem, ten-year-old girl who lives in New Orleans with her single mother. Samantha lives a rather ordinary life until a supernatural threat shows up, and her mother is hospitalized in a coma. Samantha is sent to live with her father, only to witness even more supernatural phenomena show up and start endangering everyone. A friend of Sam's father breaks the news that Samantha is actually the daughter of a ruler of a world named Aerynon, and she is prophecized to save it - specifically at the age of ten. Poor kid. Having witnessed all sorts of craziness around her, and already caught between a mother in a coma and a father she dislikes, she isn't too eager to accept her new position. Even so, she presses on anyway and enters the world of Aerynon.

The book moves at a fast pace. I mean almost James Patterson fast. Chapters are 4 pages on average! Despite that, there's a good amount of character detail, and the reader is allowed to empathize with Samantha's plight. We see Samantha's thoughts all throughout, and some of them ring very true, such as her guilt at how her last words to her mother were in an angry tone. We also get to watch Samantha gradually adjust to the bizarre parallel world of Aerynon and learn what's going on. Leading up to the grand finale, however, the book becomes mostly action and little character study, but even then, the action is fun and there are many unexpected surprises.

I have to say that I was surprised and impressed with the book. There's hardly a plot device left hanging or unused. Things that seem like they would be interesting to learn more about do end up playing a role in the story. With a fast pace, likable main character, and good use of plot elements, the reader is rarely bored.

If there are any criticisms I have, I'd like to bring up a few. There are many odd similes used throughout the book during the first half, that end up getting dropped in the second. These similes show up all over the place in the narration, and in my opinion, it gets rather distracting.

The other is that the final "act", so to speak, of the story, moves so quickly through its action that all the time we got to spend getting to relate to Samantha stands in stark contrast to the "no time to portray emotions/thoughts" speed of the finale.

But I like this book overall, and I'm giving it 4 stars. If there's ever a sequel, I'll gladly snap it up.

Ruth Ann and the Green Blowster
Ruth Ann and the Green Blowster
by Kathy Luders
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, fun, and overflowing with personality, April 25, 2008
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After reading about the origins of this humble, unassuming little story, I decided to pick it up and see for myself how this personal creation straight from the heart could turn out. I've just finished with it, and I have to say that I'm downright blown away.

"Ruth Ann and the Green Blowster" combines ideas that have been done before and mixes them into a very original blend. The story concerns a young girl, Ruth Ann, whose dog, Dukey Daddles, has recently died and gone to "High Country", which is a fantasy world floating in the sky. She visits High Country herself to try to meet her dog, and along the way, makes friends with some anthropomorphic creatures while embarking on numerous adventures.

One of Ruth Ann's traveling companions is Whistle Stick, a stick broken off of a tree who had once been used as a whistle, who grumbles and complains a lot and offers humorous sarcastic observations. Her other, Lonesome Snake, is a snake who had been sent into High Country after being killed by a mule, and just wants to find a place where he can be happy. The two companions bicker back and forth with each other while Ruth Ann cheerfully bears their grumbling and sometimes tries to make peace. Along the way, they meet many other eccentric characters, such as the Singing Lantern, or St. Bernard, the leader of the Heaven for Lucky Dogs.

It's a delightfully playful romp, but it's also a rather adventurous tale with surprising undercurrents of menace. I don't wish to spoil any of the fun surprises, but there's a lot of danger and excitement in the story, handled by the heroes in creative and fun ways. Former enemies become friends, and Ruth Ann keeps her head up even when dealing with Enemy Birds who wish to stone her, the cruel army of Pinheads who want to burn the Singing Lantern, and other hazards. All this while realizing she's working under a time limit, and if she should fail, she would be stuck in High Country forever! At the end, all of the loose ends are neatly dealt with and no previous element of the story is forgotten, making the finale very satisfying.

The book is a real page-turner. As I read it late at night each day, I couldn't wait to return to it the next, until I had finished it. I can say that about very few books, and I must say, even if the co-author, Kathy Luders, was afraid this story might be too personal for the public to relate to, I think it's amazing. The sheer personality of the whole story is precisely what makes it so much fun.

Definitely give this book a try.

Magic by the Book
Magic by the Book
by Nina Bernstein
Edition: Hardcover
45 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Who is this book intended for?, April 19, 2008
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This review is from: Magic by the Book (Hardcover)
I've never been so glad to put a book down as when I finished this one. That is not a compliment.

"Magic by the Book" is very poorly put-together, and seems to be more of what a starry-eyed adult wishes to read about in a children's adventure, than an actual adventure intended for children.

The characters are very unconvincing. We are told that the three siblings, ages 11, 9 and 6, all love to read. Great! What do they like to read? "War and Peace", and other classics that are not only not intended for children, but are far above their reading and comprehension level, and most likely out of their areas of interest. They also seem to have encyclopedic knowledge of poems and ballads.

But I could handle that, I suppose, if not for their sheer precociousness. Their dialog shows an intelligence that is very unrealistic for children. The kids are at their best when they intelligently recognize things that children might be able to figure out on their own, such as when they wonder if their being trapped in a book could result in their actions changing the story's outcome. They're at their worst, however, when they understand adult concepts, use their large knowledge of books and ballads and poems to drop references, and act like little adults. In particular, when discussing strategy to carry out rescue operations, any ability to relate to these characters as children completely disappears. Especially when six-year-old Jack, who is described as being unable to read, does it. Nothing could kill suspension of disbelief quicker than having a not-yet-literate six-year-old suddenly start understadning situations that older kids might not readily recognize.

The "little adults" comparison isn't helped by the unappealing illustrations. The kids look like midgets! They have oddly shaped bodies and large heads with faces that do not look like children at all. The characters are so poorly drawn that one would have to wonder if it was intentional. Were the bad illustrations meant to evoke some sort of bizarre "old-fashioned" feel to the book? I sure hope not, since even old books have better illustrations than this.

The action is frequently stopped by excessive narrative and flashbacks. Constant flashbacks to earlier events in the kids' childhood are triggered by things that happen, but tend to bring the story to a grinding halt. This is especially bad when the flashback is not relevant to what's currently happening in the story. It almost feels like padding, along with the amount of detail put into little things such as the rituals of little Gnomblins and the little quirks of Robin Hood's gang. While such details could be interesting and help flesh the characters out, they are expanded upon in such a way that the flow of the story suffers.

It's a shame that so much could be so wrong with this book. The idea is pretty sound: three siblings end up getting sucked into a book that transports them into different adventures, each with a problem they are required to solve. There were even plot elements that I really liked too, such as when a mysterious man from the book steals the book to use it for his own ends. Unfortunately, all the bad buries the good and turns the whole thing into a painful, nearly unreadable mess.

If you happen to enjoy this book, more power to you. Though I have to wonder... are kids, or adults, its intended audience? Horrific illustrations, bad characterization and dialog, literary namedropping ("let's see what famous book I can reference next!"), mild swearing (!), and a narrative that frequently slows down and stops for no good reason, all have me wondering if this book was really intended for kids, or for adults who have a love of books and want to be brought back to them in some twisted misshapen attempt at nostalgia.

Voyage of the Unicorn
Voyage of the Unicorn
DVD ~ Beau Bridges
21 used & new from $12.59

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun fantasy for the whole family, February 18, 2008
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This review is from: Voyage of the Unicorn (DVD)
I started watching this nearly 3 hour film not knowing what to expect. Would it be some generic fantasy adventure with a lot of exploration and a bunch of random encounters, all culminating in a big war scene at the end? That seems to be the formula these days, and I wasn't looking forward to seeing the same formula done again unless it was done with interesting twists.

What I got was a surprisingly different take on the fantasy adventure genre from what I was used to.

"Voyage of the Unicorn" doesn't waste time setting things up. Early in the film, Goblins storm a family's home with the intent to capture them. The father, Alan, and daughters Miranda and Cassie, find a ship in their hometown being piloted by an elf and a drawf, and end up using it to magically escape to same fantasy land - the very same one their pursuers had come from. Before long, they learn that they are heroes foretold of in a prophecy, and it is up to them to prevent the goblins from storming the "real world" and taking it over. The family is naturally not too happy about this, but they're told that even if the prophecy isn't true, they'll have to stop the goblins anyway or risk having to hide from them their entire lives. After all, the goblins believe in the prophecy, and they're not happy about what it means for them.

There are a number of fairly original ideas in this movie. For example, ever notice how often it is that you see a kids' movie where the kids have to save the world without any adult help? Here, however, the father comes along with his daughters and is actively involved all throughout the adventure. Of course, as is to be expected, the kids have their share of moments of heroism, but the family works together throughout the movie, and Alan gets his chance to shine.

The heroes end up encountering several well-known creatures of myth during their journey, such as a sphinx, a minotaur, and Medusa, and actually manage to convert some of them into allies who join them. Even with this small army of now-friendly creatures, the family is not always able to directly fight off most of their threats, and they end up having to deal with them in other ways. There are quite a few moments where they do fight, but mostly they have to sneak around or use trickery on their quest. A family of three plus a handful of mythological creatures do not an army make, and so there's plenty of moments where the heroes need to proceed cautiously or use their wits.

Being a fairly light-hearted story, it does get rather, dare I say, corny at times. Recruiting Medusa, complete with shades designed to prevent her eyes from turning others to stone, into the party is the sort of thing you'd never see in a story that took itself completely seriously. Indeed, there are a number of silly moments and bits of character humor, but there are also moments where the story takes itself completely seriously. The initial encounter with Medusa looked downright nerve-wracking, as Alan, sweating profusely, kept his eyes completely closed and tried not to look at Medusa, while his two daughters, blindfolded, cried their eyes out at their potential fate.

For a low budget, made-for-TV film, the sets and costumes are pretty well designed. The trolls look like what you'd expect them to, Medusa is exceptionally well-done, and all the locations look really nice. I was impressed many times with how everything looked, leaving me to wonder, "this is made for TV?" It may not be heavy on the CGI, but sometimes good old fashioned set building is what works best and is most convincing.

Characterization is pretty good as well for such a light story, but unfortunately, the dialog stumbles at times. We get some platitudes on how important it is to believe (in what exactly? Fairy tales?), and have faith in miracles. This comes out of the kids' mouths sometimes, I might add. Most of the time the dialog is good, but at times it gets a bit stiff, particularly when the film's "message" is being delivered.

Overall, though, I liked "Voyage of the Unicorn". The light mood makes the fantastical proceedings easier to digest, and the story is pretty fun. While some standard fantasy/adventure cliches are used, others are avoided, or handled differently. It's a refreshingly different story, and quite impressive that it was done on a made-for-TV budget.

The Case of the Missing Formula (Our Secret Gang)
The Case of the Missing Formula (Our Secret Gang)
by Shannon Gilligan
Edition: Paperback
7 used & new from $3.53

2.0 out of 5 stars A just plain poorly written story, February 12, 2008
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Shannon Gilligan, author of the "Our Secret Gang" series, is also the author of many "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, specifically ones which are mystery-oriented. I'd liked her work in "Choose Your Own Adventure", as it was well-paced, adventurous, and had many interesting background details to make them feel more alive and "real" than your typical entry in the series.

So I picked this up, curious to see how Shannon Gilligan handled a full-length novel. Sadly, the answer seems to be, not very well. Some of her writing style is easily recognizable, but unfortunately, it doesn't all seem to translate to novel form.

The story is about a group of kids who call themselves "Our Secret Gang", and in addition to being amateur sleuths, are also good friends who have secrets that they share. Secrets such as fear of parental breakup, losing friends, and other kid problems. Definitely a nice backdrop, I'd have to say, as it's nice to see characters that are more "real" in that sense.

As for the kids' sleuthing, they are actually recognized by adults for their detective work, and are trusted by police officers. That's not something I'm too happy with, as for me, part of the fun of amateur sleuthing is when the kid has to find things out without help and try to convince adults of their discovery. Still, I can live with that.

What I can't live with is everything else in the story. There is plenty of dialog that I simply cannot imagine coming out of the mouths of elementary school kids. They use too much professional terminology that real detectives would use, and act too mature for their age.

A local man who has invented a new formula for a soft drink enlists their help in trying to find out whole stole it. Strike two. Adults actively seeking the help of 11-year-olds to solve a problem. I never liked that when I was a kid, and I don't like it now. I wish Shannon had come up with another way to get the plot going, and maybe have the kids covertly decide to help out.

Anyway, the kids do their investigating, seeking out clues and asking direct questions of adults. In the background, a subplot involving family strife starts up, with the main character's younger brothers running away from home. Simple enough.

Things pick up after ironically one of the most boring parts of the story. The kids visit a recycling plant for school, where the criminals happen to be. The book goes into detail about what the kids learn at the recycling plant, and how bored they are, which is ironic, since I was thinking exactly the same thing. The characters may be bored with this sad attempt to inject some education into the proceedings, but I don't need to be! But in true mystery form, a suspicious conversation is overheard, and the bad guys are discovered, only for them to escape.

Near the end, the kids attempt to catch the bad guys more directly, and the action does pick up... during pretty much the only part of the book that even has action or suspense, barring the previous paragraph.

I was very disappointed. Shannon Gilligan's writing worked better in the format of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, as they basically forced her to do things differently. Their format, in which the story would take many twists and turns requiring the reader to make choices, forced her to develop the plot more quickly and put in more action. When Shannon was being forced to put in action and plot twists, she did a pretty good job with it. When she wasn't, and was given a linear novel with which to tell her story, the plot slows to a crawl before only picking up, "Choose Your Own Adventure" style, near the end.

Sadly, I'd have to say that the only thing I took away from this book was a lesson in how format constraints can shape an author's style. Shannon at her best is pretty good. At her worst, she shows but wastes potential.

Revenge of the Computer Phantoms (Shadow Zone)
Revenge of the Computer Phantoms (Shadow Zone)
by J. R. Black
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from $0.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A classic of "so bad it's good", February 12, 2008
Have you ever seen a movie that was so terrible in every way - the plot, the acting, the storytelling - that it was funny? That, once the sheer pain of what you're watching goes away, it's replaced with a genuine enjoyment and awe of the sheer dumbness and brokenness of the product, and a wonder of how such a thing could get made and published?

I've never felt that way about a book before until I read this one. I was given it as a gift when I was a young teen, by my mom, who probably figured that since it was both horror (I was reading Goosebumps and Fear Street then) and computer-related, I had to like it. I of course assumed that since it was computer-related horror, it had to be done horribly, and it was.

First off, authors should not write about that which they do not understand. If you don't know anything about video games and computers, enlist the help of someone who does to make your plot make more sense. As it is, we have some very weird representations of games in there. Weird technical terms such as "back door" (allegedly put there by a programmer to let the player "slip in" and change things - wait a minute... isn't that normally called a "cheat code"?) get thrown around, and we see representations of games that just wouldn't be made in this day and age.

The main characters play a computer game that's divided into 4 levels that are completely unrelated to each other. That's something I'd expect from the Atari era, where games like Necromancer and Alley Cat actually would change the goal and some gameplay elements every level. Not in the 1990s. Anyway, the hero from that game gets pulled into the real world, but naturally, he's not the only thing that enters the real world! For a while, the book features too much corny comedy about helping this fictional character adjust to "our" world. Our heroes have to deal with the threat of all the bad guys that have come out - sometimes from other games! - while also using their l337 haX0ring skillz to try to stop this mess.

This book is just plain stupid. A dumb plot, dumb characters, and way too many facts gotten wrong or that just plain don't make sense. The presumed target audience is going to look at this and roll their eyes, realizing that the author knows nothing of which he writes - as always seems to be the case when pop culture or anything associated largely with the young gets made into a story. On the other hand, the story *is* genuinely fun. It's paced well enough that it can be enjoyed, in the way that a poorly made film with a good pace can be enjoyed. Dumb plot element after dumb situation after dumb dialog occurs fast enough that if nothing else, the reader won't get bored, but the reader will either be upset or amused by the goings-on.

But hey, isn't the point of a book to entertain?

The Rise of the Black Wolf (Grey Griffins, Book 2)
The Rise of the Black Wolf (Grey Griffins, Book 2)
by Derek Benz
Edition: Hardcover
89 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, and improved over its predecessor, January 31, 2008
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When I read the first Grey Griffins book, The Revenge of the Shadow King, I found it very fun but had mixed feelings about its quality as an actual book. There were many random action events that seemed to come out of nowhere, and many plot elements I felt went underused. On the positive side, I really liked the character interactions and some of the characterizations - at least for Max and Natalia, as Ernie and Harley were underdeveloped.

The sequel deals with all of those complaints, while keeping the strengths from the first book. Right in the first chapter, we learn some of Ernie and Harley's background, and the two are further developed throughout the book, particularly Ernie, who plays some surprisingly important roles.

The action picks up very quickly. I won't spoil what happens, but I will say that this time, there's far fewer random elements and much more things that connect together, with a more cohesive overall plot, and many surprises. I was genuinely surprised and impressed.

Natalia retains her inquisitive demeanor and love of snooping. Max is, like before, more interested in being with friends and family than he is with his family's massive wealth. His personal problems are explored in greater detail than anyone else's backstory, as he is the primary main character after all.

The story does follow roughly the same formula as the previous. The four friends go on adventures, get rescued by adults, have some backstory dumped on them (there's one entire chapter that's mostly dialog and backstory, with no action), and the final adventure involves the kids going at it alone. Only this time, the formula has been tweaked to near perfection. There's more logical reasons for why these things happen, and it just feels more designed and well thought out.

If this is a sign of things to come, then I have high hopes for this series. The series' trademarks - lots of friendly banter between the kids, plot dumping in the form of dialog from adult mentors, and lots of close calls - will probably remain consistent throughout. But as long as these trademarks and handled with care so that they form a well flowing narrative rather than a mixed bag, the result will be a lot of fun.

Jennifer the Jerk Is Missing
Jennifer the Jerk Is Missing
by Carol Gorman
Edition: Hardcover
20 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun light-hearted mystery, January 12, 2008
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Jennifer-the-Jerk Is Missing wastes no time getting started. Right in the first chapter, we are introduced to the characters, and it isn't long before the mystery starts.

13 year old Amy hates babysitting Malcolm, a bratty 8-year-old who, according to his parents, has a habit of making up stories and telling lies. When Malcolm witnesses what he thinks is the kidnapping of his classmate, even brattier 8-year-old Jennifer Smith, Amy takes it in stride, considering not only Malcolm's reputation for making things up, but also the fact that what he witnessed had a perfectly logical explanation. Further investigation, along with much arguing with Malcolm, ultimately proves that he's right, and she finally jumps into action to try to set things right.

This is a pretty fun little story. There's a lot of personality in the characters. Malcolm is a constant brat, first rejecting Amy and telling her that he doesn't have to do anything she tells him, and that he's going to do things on his own. Afraid of getting in trouble with Malcolm's strict parents as well as her own, she follows along, even as she tries to reign him in and keep him out of trouble. Both characters are trying to do the right thing, except for a while, both believe the right thing is something different. Malcolm believes fervently that he witnessed a kidnapping and he must stop it, while Amy thinks Malcolm made the whole thing up and it's her duty to stop him from getting out of hand.

Once Malcolm's fears are proven true, however, Amy quickly leaps to his side. Since the police don't believe them (due to Malcolm's many tall tales in the past), the two take it upon themselves to rescue Jennifer.

What was rather unexpected is that the mood shifts once they get there. The book starts out mostly suspenseful, with dashes of character humor sprinkled throughout the proceedings. Once they reach the kidnappers' hideout, the story changes. The suspense ramps up considerably, but the humor ramps up even more, overshadowing the suspense.

Jennifer is just as bratty as Malcolm said she was. Tied to a chair and gagged, she actually laughs beneath her gag at Amy and Malcolm's first failed attempt to rescue her. She is very ungrateful, unrealistically so to the point of character comedy, but truth be told, this is part of what makes the story so fun.

I liked this book a lot. I like suspense, and I don't mind humor if it doesn't necessarily get in the way of the story. Thankfully, it mostly didn't. While the characters did act rather unrealistically at times, particularly in regards to the dialog coming from the kidnappers, I felt the character humor worked pretty well. It mostly added flavor to the characters and lightened the mood, but didn't take too much away from the suspense. The solutions to problems are fairly improbable, but then again, it's just that type of story. Once you appreciate it for what it is, the story is pretty enjoyable.

Overall, a pretty fun read. Recommended for anyone who'd like a more light-hearted mystery/adventure story.

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