Thrills and Chills at Skeleton Creek

(First published on Manila Bulletin, Students and Campuses section)

Something sinister is bubbling beneath the surface of the backwater town of Skeleton Creek, and best friends Ryan McCray and Sarah Fincher appear to have stirred it. Ryan and Sarah are convinced that Skeleton Creek is harboring secrets, and they are determined to get to the bottom of it, even though there are forces that want to stop them at all costs.

This is the premise behind Scholastic Press’ latest multimedia venture, following the phenomenal success of its interactive middle reader series 39 Clues, which had readers collecting clue cards and playing online games in the hunt for the Cahill family treasure. This time around, Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman introduces readers to a new multimedia format: video books.

“Books are having a harder time holding the attention of a wired youth culture. iPods, cell phones, movies, the Internet, video games, and television are distracting even our best young readers,” states Skeleton Creek creator Patrick Carman. “I developed Skeleton Creek for ten to sixteen year olds who have grown up with YouTube and MySpace for one reason: I want them to read. While there will always be plenty of room for traditional books for young adults, publishing has to think outside the box in order to bring back many of our young readers.”

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The Fire and the Hornet’s Nest


Last week, I decided to finished reading the rest of the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson.

I found the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo an engaging read — it took a while to get into the story but absolutely compelling when it hit the groove. I admit I was a bit apprehensive about the rest of the series, because I kept hearing opposite opinions about it. One side emphatically insisted the series gets better in books 2 and 3, the other side insisted, with equal gusto, that the first book was the best of the bunch.

I liked the first book enough that I thought I’d miss out if the next two books did turn out to be better, so I went ahead and got myself the next two books in the series. There were no more trade paperbacks available anywhere (my TGWTDT s a trade paperback) so I settled on the UK mass market paperbacks, which looked like they had better paper and binding than the first, and they’ve held up pretty well through the first reading — spine creasing not so pronounced — although now they’re crying out for me to “upgrade” them. I hope bookstores would restock the trade paperbacks; I don’t know how long I can resist getting the nice hardcover set tempting me from the bookstore window!

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

 

 

I’ve always wanted to read Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — I’ve actually had a copy sitting on my shelf for several months now, but for a while there was some hype about it and I wanted to wait for it to dial down a bit. And then when I was looking for a book to read this weekend, the chartreuse cover got my attention so I finally took it out of its packaging, covered it in protective plastic (of course), and started to read it.

Originally written in Swedish, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. The novel has won multiple awards, including Sweden’s Glass Key Award in 2006 for best crime novel of the year, the 2008 Boeke Prize, the 2009 Galaxy British Book Awards for Books Direct Crime Thriller of the year, and the 2009 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.

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The London Eye Mystery

 

I was out of town with my cousins last weekend for a special marathon of our current favorite show,The Big Bang Theory, and what is fast becoming a weekend tradition: gaming (the hidden object and action strategy type).  Dianne mentioned a book she read recently, and of course when either of us talks about a book we like, the other eventually reads it (because we feed off each other’s compulsions that way!), and so I ended up borrowing her copy of The London Eye Mystery with me to read in between our marathon sessions.

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The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

A couple of months ago, I blogged about how much I enjoyed the first two books of The Mysterious Benedict Society, and I recently got to read the third book in the series, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

If you’re not familiar with the “prisoner’s dilemma,” it’s a problem involving two prisoners who are physically separated and offered a deal by their captor to betray their fellow prisoner and get off scot-free. The book opens with Sticky and Kate in one room and Constance and Reynie in another, in a “prisoner’s dilemma” type of test supervised by Rhonda Kazembe, one of Mr. Benedict’s assistants. They had three options:

(A) If both teams remain silent, all of them receive extra kitchen duty for one day.

(B) If both teams betray each other, all of them would receive extra kitchen duty for one week.

(C) If one team chose silence and one team chose betrayal, the traitors would get of free while the other team would be kitchen slaves for a whole week!

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