Friday, December 16, 2011

A Surprise Book, A Surprise Gift


** Before I begin, I must explain that this post is not a result of a publisher or author request. I was never contacted by anyone asking me to publicize the book I'm about to discuss. I do so simply because I feel compelled to share a great discovery with you all. I feel the book more than deserves it. Okay, now on with the post. **

Something happened a few weeks ago that doesn’t often happen: I discovered a fantastic MG series that I had no idea existed, one that has been out for a while without my knowledge. Still can’t believe I’d never heard of it, since I am usually very up-to-date on MG books/series. I don’t know how I happened upon the book on Amazon, but I downloaded the sample and gave it a look. As I read the sample on my Kindle, I was blown away by how intriguing the concept was, and how much I enjoyed the voice. I immediately bought the first book in the series. The book I’m talking about is Dean Lorey’s MONSTER HUNTERS (released a few years ago), which is the first book of his NIGHTMARE ACADEMY series. To me, this type of discovery of an unknown book is like receiving a surprise gift. And I highly, highly recommend this surprise gift.


Here is the summary from the publisher’s website:  

Join Charlie Benjamin on a “fast-paced, action-packed” adventure. When Charlie’s nightmares bring monsters to Earth, Charlie gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn to control his powers at the incredible Nightmare Academy. “Marvelous creatures” greet Charlie and his new friends as they embark on “a straight-forward thrill ride” of “rip-roaring monster slayings” in a debut novel that’s “pure entertainment.”

To add to that summary a bit, here is my own: 

Charlie Benjamin has been a loner ever since he can remember, but that's not exactly his choice. See, things happen when Charlie falls asleep. Strange things, like the night he is invited to a sleepover that results in all the kids being hung from the ceiling in cocoons--all the kids except Charlie, that is. Ever since the "Terror at the Sleepover Apocalypse," as it is called in the local newspaper, Charlie finds his house to be his entire world. He rarely leaves his house, and is even home-schooled. But when one of his nightmares leads to a strange monster called a silver tongue invading his house, Charlie meets a couple of monster hunters named Rex (a Banisher) and Tabitha (a Nethermancer), along with a Facilitator named Pinch. Charlie is invited to join the Nightmare Academy to help hone his craft. Because, turns out, the Gift is strong with Charlie (he's like the Luke Skywalker of the academy). Charlie's gift is so strong he can open portals that most "nethermancers" can only dream of opening. The academy is a Camp Half-Blood type place (Percy Jackson) that houses kids who have the Gift. But none of the other students have Charlie's type of power. And Charlie's power will be needed to deal with a vicious monster named Barakkas, whose presence could spell doom for all. I'd go on, but trust me, you'll want to invest your time in reading this book, and the ensuing series. And if you have a MG boy out there, RUN to your local bookstore and get the book(s)! Your MG-er will thank you over and over. You have my word on that.

As I now read book 2 (MONSTER MADNESS), I wonder if this type of thing has happened to anyone else. Have you ever happened upon a great MG book (or series) that had been out for a while but you had no idea existed? Do tell.

14 comments:

  1. I knew about this one! I have three copies of the first in my library, but the third is almost impossible to locate! As much as my students love this one, I'm not buying a used paperback for $40! And I miss things all the time.

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  2. There is no greater feeling than the surprise discovery of a story that feels like "wow, it's as if this was written just for me."

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  3. Ms. Yingling: That's why you're such a great librarian, you know about these great books. But I'm curious, has there ever been a discovery, on your end, of a book you'd never heard about? Also, strange that the third book of the series is so hard to find. Wonder why that's the case.

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  4. Matt: True. Very true. Not sure the book was written *for* me, but it was right up my alley. Thanks.

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  5. Wow, I missed this series, too! So glad you discovered it and chose to share it with us. Off to Amazon!!! :-)

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  6. Marley Jones12/16/11, 11:49 AM

    I read this, loved it! :)

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  7. Shannon: Yes, buy it and give it a read.

    Marley: Thanks for weighing in. What's not to love, right?

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  8. I had this recently with S. Westerfield's YA series: Uglies, Pretties, Specials.

    The book covers gave me totally the wrong impression, but when I finally picked them up, I loved them! Ditto with M.T. Anderson's FEED.

    Love "discovering" good books!

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  9. Marissa: I've got to read that series. My students seem to enjoy it, but I haven't gotten to them yet. I'll have to soon. Thanks.

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  10. While they are probably more YA, I'd probably go with Tamora Pierce's "Alanna" series. I was aware of them, but never checked them out. Then a few years ago I checked one of the books out of my school library and loved it!

    I'd also say Ship Breaker is another one and that book blew me away in ways I've blogged about!

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  11. John: I haven't read the Alanna series. Shame on me, since she's local. And, yeah, SHIP BREAKER blew me away, but I saw that coming before I read it.

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  12. It really feels cool when you find a hidden gem of a book or series. It's like this little secret present that few know about and it feels great when you can spread the word about a fresh voice more should read! :)

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  13. I didn't find the Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins until they were all out, adn the great thing about that was I didn't have to wait to finish it. My daughter and I listened to the audio one after the other until we got through all five.

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  14. Mike, this is Dean Lorey -- the author of the NIGHTMARE ACADEMY series. I know this comment comes in very late, but I Just wanted to let you know how happy I am that you love the series. So do I. And, as for Ms. Yingling's comment about the third book being impossible to find... I share your pain. It's available as an ebook but enormously difficult to get in paperback. Believe it or not, it's actually easier to buy the UK edition. The UK editions are really beautiful, by the way. Take care and thanks again!

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!