* Panda-Monium

Panda-Monium, the 4th mystery in Stuart Gibbs’ FunJungle series, tops them all!  Teddy Fitzroy is back, this time with a girlfriend, in another hilarious and complex plot.  FunJungle is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Li Ping, a panda on loan from China.  Imagine their horror when the carefully designed truck arrives and Li Ping has disappeared!  This time, Teddy is relieved to take a back seat to the FBI investigation.  Or so he hopes.

Teddy’s nemesis, Marge O’Malley (the security officer who has been forever accusing him of every mishap at FunJungle), blackmails him into searching for solutions.  Marge is desperate to show up her pompous and condescending sister, FBI agent Molly O’Malley.  What are the odds that these two would end up at the same crime scene?  Teddy has faced black mambas, tigers, and sharks in previous FunJungle books, but Panda-Monium takes danger to a whole new level.  And the catastrophes are truly uproarious.  Although written for middle schoolers and above, I was also laughing wildly at Teddy’s adventures with dolphins and polar bears.

Stuart Gibbs continues to weave in other topics of interest to his readers, including bullying, friendships, and school cultures.  All of these are painted with the same outrageous humor but keep the book grounded in relevant topics.  Teddy is at his most determined, insightful, and clever, but I’ll leave you to enjoy the unveiling of the villains.  I will say that one of my favorite scenes was Marge driving a golf cart wildly through FunJungle, with poor Teddy and Summer hanging on for dear life.  Or maybe it was the polar bear disaster, which reveals a better side of Marge while still reminding us that she is clueless.

Panda-Monium has “perfect-for-a-movie” written all over it.  I hope you enjoy it!

panda-monium-

*** I only review books which I can highly recommend.  I read a lot of 3 -and 4-star books, but it’s the 5-star winners which make it to my blog. ***

* The Breaking Light

I hate romances.  Within a couple of pages of reading The Breaking Light, my romance detector was buzzing with alarm.  On the other hand, the book is also science fiction.  What a dilemma.  I kept reading and couldn’t stop.  After all, didn’t I fall in love with my dearest teaching widower at first sight, when we were teenagers?  That’s exactly what happens to the characters who star in this romantic sci fi adventure written by Heather Hansen.  Arden lives in the underbelly of a dark world, a city without sunlight.  Its inhabitants die from vitamin D deficiency.  She is a member of a gang whose reputation for brutality is well known.  Dade lives in the sun, the scion of a powerful ruler of the exclusive Towers, whose residents are determined to stay at the top.  The tipping point occurs when Dade’s father brokers a marriage for his son, who has just fallen in love with Arden.  The Breaking Light explores their Romeo-and-Juliet type of romance, where the stakes are equally high.

Breaking Light

The setting of this book is fascinating.  It’s a terraformed planet which was mined to supply the Old Planet, but no longer has any contact with that forgotten world.  The atmosphere is literally and figuratively toxic.  The author creates a believable city of intricate levels, built upon the foundation of old mines.  She also creates a futuristic technology of phasers, hovercraft, and synthetic skins.  The doomed inhabitants are kept prisoner by implants and “govies” who kill and torture without a qualm.

Heather Hansen skillfully explores the corrosion of lives, of both those who live in the sun and those destined to perish without it.  Arden and Dade are threatened on all sides, they kiss a lot, and I kept reading!  The book is a terrific read BUT the sequel won’t be available until next December.  I wonder if I could send Heather some chocolate or other bribe to speed up the process.

Definitely a 5-star read, with many twists and turns, lots of thrills and heartache, and above all, sacrificial love.