Review: If You Find This by Matthew Baker

If You Find This If You Find This
by Matthew Baker

ISBN-13: 9-780316-240086
Publication: March 2015 from Little, Brown BYR
Source: netgalley
Rating: 3 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Nicholas is a math and music genius with no friends and a huge problem: His father has lost his job, and they’ll have to sell their house, which holds the only memory Nicholas has of his younger brother. Just in time, Nicholas’s senile grandfather arrives, filled with tales of priceless treasure he has hidden somewhere in town – but where?

With the help of misfit classmates, two grandfathers, a ghosthouse, hidden messages, séances, and an uncanny mind for numbers, Nicholas stages a nursing home breakout, tangles with high schoolers in smugglers’ tunnels, and gets swept up in a duel with the biggest bullies in the neighborhood. Will it be enough to find the treasure and save his house?

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If You Find This by Matthew Baker is an intriguing book about a young boy who doesn’t quite fit in and his just-out-of-prison grandfather. Throw in two very unlikely friends, family heirlooms and a dreaded ‘For Sale’ sign (and some old smuggler tunnels) and you have the making of a different sort of adventure book.

Nicholas is the best part of If You Find This. His voice is fantastic. Nicholas is a junior high school student, and a genius. As such, he doesn’t really mesh with the rest of the school crowd. Terrified he’s going to lose his house (most likely, with the For Sale sign present) and the last connection to his brother, Nicholas gets some hope in the form of his grandfather – who’s just been released from prison and is more than a little senile. Wanting to find any means necessary to keep his family from moving, Nicholas latches on to his grandfather’s story about buried family heirlooms. And so starts a story filled with senior home breakouts, a haunted house, and the help of the school thief and school bully.

Right at the beginning of the book, I felt for Nicholas. If he leaves his house, he leaves that connection to his brother. If he believes his grandfather, everything could be fixed. If he doesn’t, he might be throwing away the chance to save his house. Does he believe or doesn’t he? I definitely think his choice is awesome, if nto a little unbelievable at times. Like stealign a boat to sail out to an island of tunnels where high schoolers hang out? Alright. Keeping two missing grandfathers in a haunted house and NO ONE manages to find them? Sure. A boy that gets away with stealing all manner of things, mostly high-top sneakers and reselling them (at school!) and nothing’s done about it? Ok. It’s a book, I’ll suspend disbelief for a good story. And Nicholas is worth the story. He’s brave and kind and a little reckless.

3 heart

As a music lover, I also enjoyed the musical knowledge put into If You Find This. Unlike Nicholas, I didn’t play violin, but it was nice to see band class represented in a middle grade story. However, the musical terms did at times distract me from the story. As Nicholas narrates, he included musical notations like forte, piano, etc. to denote how people are speaking, things are sounding, etc. I eventually started skipping over them and reading the sentences as if these words weren’t there – mostly because, at least in the e-ARC version, they were not formated very well. Unfortunately, I have no copies in a local book store that I could go check to see how it’s formated in the finished published version – I guess I’ll just have to order it to read to my class this year! This book is definitely one that I could see reading out loud to my students. They’d love the mysteryof the missing heirlooms.

e-ARC provided through Netgalley from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

“Waiting On” Wednesday: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

Waiting On Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

A Curious Tale of the In Between A Curious Tale of the In-Between
by Lauren DeStefano
Publication date: September 1, 2015 from Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Pram Bellamy is special — she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Lost Track of Time by Paige Britt

Waiting On Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Lost Track of Time The Lost Track of Time
by Paige Britt & Lee White (Illustrator)
Publication date: March 31, 2015 from Scholastic Press

Penelope is running out of time!

She dreams of being a writer, but how can she pursue her passion when her mother schedules every minute of her life? And how will she ever prove that writing is worthwhile if her mother keeps telling her to “get busy!” and “be more productive”?

Then one day, Penelope discovers a hole in her schedule – an entire day completely unplanned! – and she mysteriously falls into it. What follows is a mesmerizing journey through the Realm of Possibility where Penelope sets out to find and free the Great Moodler, the one person who may have the answers she seeks. Along the way, she must face an army of Clockworkers, battle the evil Chronos, take a daring Flight of Fancy, and save herself from the grip of time.

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin Perfect Ruin
by Lauren DeStefano

ISBN-13: 9-781442-480612
Publication: October 2013 from Simon & Schuster BYR
Source: publisher
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan’s older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

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Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano is fantastic! The idea of a city that floats in the sky, on an island, not connected to anything or aware of the world below them? Crazy but wonderful. I highly enjoyed the mythology behind the city of Internment, and Morgan is a compelling main character.

Despite the method of their relationship, I enjoyed that Morgan and Basil are a stable couple, and Pen is an intense best friend. When the murders begin, the mystery surrounding the deaths, Judas and what can be found on the ground, below Internment, heats up. Morgan is swept up in events that are quite beyond her control. Morgan’s family has been through the wringer, and Pen has her own history that needs exploring. Lauren DeStefano does an awesome job in upping the suspense has Morgan gets deeper and deeper into the secrets of Internment, and in creating some interesting characters. The prince and princess of Internment are sufficiently creepy!

4 heart

Perfect Ruin manages to capture and maintain the reader’s interest through pretty great story-telling. I’m invested in these characters and want to know more about their backstories (Pen, I’m looking at you) and also what will happen next. I’m anxious for the sequel to find out what will become of Morgan and the rest of our cast of fugitives. There is so much potential for world building and character growth – I hope book 2 lives up to book 1!

ARC provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Waiting On Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

The Girl from the Well big The Girl from the Well
by Rin Chupeco
Publication date: August 5, 2014 from Sourcebooks Fire

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Extraction by Stephanie Diaz

Waiting On Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Extraction big Extraction
by Stephanie Diaz
Publication date: July 22, 2014 from St. Martin’s Griffin

Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface – it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon’s lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet’s leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers – and that means Logan, too.

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don’t want her running—they want her subdued.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor

Waiting On Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Searching for Sky big Searching for Sky
by Jillian Cantor
Publication date: May 13, 2014 Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they’ve ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she’s just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one another. And without River, nothing makes sense. Sky yearns for her old life where she was strong and capable, not lost and confused. She must find River so they can return to Island, but the truth behind how they ended up there in the first place will come as the biggest shock of all.