Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stormbreaker

Stormbreaker is by Anthony Horowitz. The first adventure in the Alex Rider Series, this book is a joy to read. 14-year-old Alex Rider doesn't know his uncle is a spy, until he's killed. Then MI6 recruits Alex to finish his uncle's mission. He finds himself involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse with thousands of lives at stake, including his own. This book reads like a young James Bond thriller. It will delight boys, and girls, of all ages. You'll find yourself longing for Alex's next adventure.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Cut

Cut is by Patricia McCormick. Callie cuts herself; not enough to die. Now she's at Sea Pines, a residential treatment facility, and she is surrounded by other girls also struggling with problems. She doesn't want anything to do with them. She won't even speak. But she can't get better if she doesn't talk to anyone. This is an excellent tale of a young woman's struggle with mental illness and self mutilation. There is some profanity, but it is not gratuitous. It is typical of this type of situation. This is a hard story to read, but it is also touching and encouraging.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity).

Skeleton Man

Skeleton Man is by Joseph Bruchac. One morning Molly wakes up and discovers her parents have disappeared. Social Services turn her over to a man she doesn't know who claims to be her uncle. Soon he begins to haunt her dreams and she realizes this man is not her uncle and he does not mean her any good. Can she escape his clutches and save her parents? This is a thoroughly creepy tale based on Native American mythology. If you liked The Dark Pond you'll love this one as well.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Akhenaten Adventure

The Akhenaten Adventure is by P.B. Kerr. The first installment in the Children of the Lamp Series. John and Philippa Gaunt are 12-year-old twins, they seem like normal children. One day they discover they are descended from a long line of djinn - that's right, just like in Aladdin. Their parents send them to London to visit their eccentric Uncle Nimrod. He is determined to teach them all about their djinn history and powers. However they soon find themselves involved in a battle against the evil Iblis and together with their uncle they must save the universe. Can they succeed? This promises to be a fun thrill-packed series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

True Stories of D-Day

True Stories of D-Day is by Henry Brook. This is a collection of true stories of the Allied invasion of France on D-Day. It is a moving and stirring collection of the exploits of heroes. It accurately describes the odds and difficulties and the overwhelming courage of the Allied forces. A great non-fiction book for boys.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Silver Kiss

The Silver Kiss is by Annette Curtis Klause. Zoe is a teenager whose mother is dying of cancer, her father is overwhelmed by her mother's illness, and her best friend is moving to another state. She needs someone to understand her loneliness and pain . Then Zoe meets Simon who understands pain and loneliness all too well. He is a vampire, hunting the vampire who turned him and killed his mother. Will these two lost souls be able to help each other? This is a very good book. It is not typical vampire fare and the ending is not what you would expect. If you are looking for Twilight, this book isn't it. It is gruesome, but tender and touching, and deals well with the issue of the effects of terminal illness on a family.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tantalize

Tantalize is by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Quincie Morris is an orphan. Her parents died in a car accident and left her in the custody of her uncle. They also left her the family restaurant. Her Uncle D decides it would be cool to turn the failing Italian restaurant into a vampire themed establishment. Then the chef is murdered and a new chef is hired. But there's more to Henry Johnson than meets the eye - and did I mention Quincie's boyfriend is a werewolf. Wow! This book was a totally unexpected surprise. The plot does not follow expected lines and the ending leaves you begging for a sequel. A must read for those who enjoy vampire tales.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity), S (non-graphic sexual references) - AC (mature thematic content).

Bearstone

Bearstone is by Will Hobbs. Hobbs is such a wonderful author, especially for boys. If you like Gary Paulsen, you'll love Will Hobbs. This is the story of 14-year-old Cloyd, a Ute Indian boy who has been sent to a group home in Colorado. For the summer he is sent to a farm owned by elderly Walter Landis. Walter and Cloyd struggle to understand each other, even as Cloyd seeks to understand himself and his heritage. A wonderful story set in the beautiful Colorado mountains. Starts a little slow, but picks up quickly. A very enjoyable read.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Sailor Returns

A Sailor Returns is by Theodore Taylor. Jane Pentreath Bryant's father was a sailor. He abandoned her after her mother's death thirty years ago. Now she is married with a son and another child on the way. She receives a letter from the father she's never known who wants to come visit. Eleven-year-old Evan is thrilled; he can't wait to meet his grandfather the sailor. Grandfather Tom wants to be part of the family, but he's hiding a secret; will his new family be able to forgive his past? This is a touching and endearing story. A real gem.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Vampire's Assistant

The Vampire's Assistant is by Darren Shan. The second installment in the Cirque Du Freak series. Darren and Mr. Crepsley have rejoined the Cirque Du Freak. Darren is fading fast, if he doesn't drink human blood soon he will die. He doesn't want to because he's afraid he will become a monster. Will Darren die? Will he be able to find a friend? This is a great story of fighting against the inevitable. It is creepy and somewhat violent. It certainly does not have a happy ending. Boys, especially, will love this series.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (some violence).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chosen

Chosen is by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast. This is the third book in the House of Night Series. Vampyre fledgling, Zoey, is really in the middle of a mess. In the last book vampyres were killing humans, now humans are killing vampyres. Zoey is finally caught up in the web of half-truths and secrets she has woven around herself and makes a typical young girl tragic mistake. Will she lose everything? This book was sad. As an adult woman you see the horrible error in judgment coming and it is painful to watch. There is profanity in this book as well and non-graphic sexual references. If you liked the first two, you'll love this one and wait impatiently for the next volume in the series.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (non-graphic sexual references).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In The Cards: Love

In The Cards: Love is by Mariah Fredericks. This is the story of Anna whose elderly neighbor dies and leaves her a cat and a deck of Tarot cards. Anna has a crush on the hottest boy in school and wants to know if there is a chance for them to get together. This is a great story that realistically portrays what it's like to not be with the "cool" kids. It frankly discusses bullying and what students, and school staff, can and should do about it. Anna struggles to maintain her friendship with Eve and Syd, her own identity, and her relationships with her divorced parents and younger brother. This was a really good story, if a somewhat easy read.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Betrayed

Betrayed is by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast. This is the second book in the House of Night Series. The saga of Zoey Redbird continues as she takes over as leader of the Dark Daughters & Sons. As she prepares for her first Full Moon Ritual she struggles with her possible imprinting of her ex-boyfriend Heath; her infatuation with Loren, the Vampyre Poet Laureate; and her desire for her boyfriend Erik. Then human teenagers start to die and Zoe knows all of them. Is someone from the House of Night killing humans? This is a really good series. I am finding it fascinating and intriguing. There is profanity and non-graphic sexual references, but the suspense of the plot is killer.

Ratings: 10th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - S (non graphic sexual references) - AC (mature thematic content).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn is by Stephenie Meyer. This is the final volume in the Twilight Series. All I have to say is "WOW"! This book is not what I expected at all. You think you knew at the end of Eclipse how the story would progress, wrong! The wedding day has finally come and it goes better than anyone expected, but afterwards in typical Bella and Edward fashion, the problems begin to develop. This book is darker than the others in some ways and is in places hard to read for those who have become attached to the characters. As the old cliche notes, "it is always darkest before the dawn." Nevertheless it is, in my opinion, the best book in the series. It loses the innocence of Twilight, but the characters have grown and with adult choices come adult consequences. A fantastic read!

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content).

Words By Heart

Words By Heart is by Ouida Sebestyen. A touching story of a black family trying to make a new life amongst a white population in the early 1900's. Lena thinks that by winning the Scripture recitation contest she will finally have others notice her for her abilities rather than the color of her skin. After winning the Bible-quoting contest she finds it doesn't bring her the attention she expects or wants. After violence breaks out, Lena, who believes in vengeance, must learn to forgive. This book does use the "n" word as it was used during this time period.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Spinners

Spinners is by Donna Jo Napoli & Richard Tchen. This is a magnificent, if more adult, re-telling of the story of Rumpelstiltskin. It encompasses everything love, pride, magic, greed, revenge. It is the story of two spinners; one a man crippled by love and the other the daughter he has never met. It tells how they eventually meet and how things don't turn out as either hopes. It certainly does not have a happily-ever-after ending; the ending leaves you wondering what becomes of both spinners and how love could have gone so wrong. A wonderful heart-rending story.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.