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Bookends: The Spanish Civil War and Buried Treasure inspire these stories October 19, 2014

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: The Spanish Civil War and Buried Treasure inspire these storiesLost Cause

By Dan Davidson

March 19. 2014

– 900 words –

 

Lost Cause

By

Orca Book Publishers

224 pages

$9.95

 

Lost Cause is another in the “Seven” series of books about seven grandsons who are given money by their dead grandfather in order to carry out certain tasks. The tasks are connected to events in his life and also intended to bring out something that he has seen in each of the young men.

While it is a series of novels, all the events take place in around the same time frame and it makes no difference which order you read the books in. Each one starts with a different point of view repeat of the same basic frame sequence, beginning after the funeral and leading into the reading of the will at the lawyer’s office. Here the boys see a video the old man made for them before he died and receive the first of a number of letters that will outline their tasks and get them started.

What is different about this series is that each volume has been written by a different Canadian author. This means that each book has a distinct flavour and this, to my mind, is to the advantage of the series.

Steven is the slightly younger (by minutes) twin brother of DJ, whose story I reviewed here a couple of weeks back. Steven is insecure and has tended to feel himself second best next to DJ. While DJ was close to Grandfather David, Steve has always been more reserved. It seems that it is for this reason the old man chose to reveal to him parts of his history that no one else in the family knows, including the story of his first true love.

Steve is sent to Spain to reconnect with events that his grandfather experienced when he was just slightly older than him and volunteered to fight on the side of the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War that provided the Italians and Germans with a test run of their battle tactics.

His letter sends Steve to a specific address in Barcelona, where he meets Laia, the granddaughter of a nurse that his grandfather knew during the months he fought against the Fascists. Laia has an old suitcase to which Steve has be given the key, and in it are mementoes of that time, including a hand written diary.

John Wilson specializes in young adult historical fiction, so this book is perfect for his style. Once Steve has the diary, easily half the rest of the narrative is given to us in his grandfather’s words, as he and Laia retrace the old man’s steps and visit the places he mentions in his journal.

Steve learns a lot about his grandfather and comes to appreciate him as he never did in life.

It’s a very effective story.

 

Seizure: A Virals NovelSeizure

Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

Puffin Books

512 pages

$9.99

 

In the second novel of the Virals series our four teens are faced with a serious problem flowing from the events of their first adventure. In that first book they were infected with a virus that re-wrote part of their DNA, giving them some canine enhanced abilities and something of a telepathic link. When they “flare”, a reaction over which they don’t always have any control, their eyes turn yellow, their senses become acute and they gain extra strength and speed.

Tory lives with her father since the death of her mother. She is the grandniece of Temperance Brennan, the protagonist of Kathy Reichs’ mystery novels, and shares some of her traits. Kit, her father, has a new lady in his life and Tory is trying to deal with that situation.

She is the alpha of her group, able to communicate with the others and sometimes to trigger their flares. Her friends are Ben, who serves as the muscle of this Scooby Gang; Shelton, the gadget guru; and Hiram, the overweight comical sidekick. One of things I liked about this second volume is that the boys are better fleshed out this time.

The overarching issue in this book is that the research facility all their parents work for is about to be closed due to a lack of funding. This will also cost them their homes and they could be split up to places all over the country, if not the world. Since they are linked as they are, and are still trying to find out exactly what has happened to them, this would make their lives even more difficult.

Their solution is to try and find a centuries old pirate treasure and in so doing come up with the funs to save the centre, the island it’s on and the creatures that live there, including a lot of monkeys and at least one pack of wolves. It’s a complicated caper that has quite a few twists and turns to it.

To my taste, this was a better story than the first book, but I have to admit that I read Virals two years ago and my recall relies heavily on the review I wrote at that time. I told you I’d get back to this series eventually. And here I am.

Brendan Reichs is Kathy’s son, by the way. They seem to work well together.

 

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