Thursday, December 31, 2009

World War II Heroes

World War II Heroes is by Allan Zullo. Ten true stories of heroes from WWII. What a great book to read to not only learn more about WWII, but to celebrate the heroism of those who selflessly served our country. Boys will love this and it is a good way to introduce them to nonfiction reading.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane is by Suzanne Collins. The second book in the Underland Chronicles finds Gregor and Boots back in Underland. Gregor must find "The Bane", a white rat that prophecy says is evil and will bring down the Underland. The rats are trying to kill Boots to prevent Gregor from killing "The Bane". Gregor sets out on another action filled adventure with Ares, Luxa, and some new friends. Will he find the white rat? If he does will he kill it? What happens if he doesn't? This book is better than the first; I can't wait to read the third.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (violence).

The Night Dance: A Retelling of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses"

The Night Dance: A Retelling of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses" is by Suzanne Weyn. Bedivere must return the magical sword Excalibur to the mystical Lady of the Lake who has been trapped in her lake by Morgan le Fey. The Lady has 12 daughters who she has been trying to reach with her powers so that they can find and release her. When Sir Ethan comes up with a contest to discover where his 12 daughters escape to every night, Bedivere discovers the chance to fulfill his quest and win his love, Rowena, at the same time. A magical tale, beautifully told.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.


Wolf is by Gillian Cross. Cassy is having nightmares and something very strange is going on at her home. Every time the mysterious knock sounds at the door, Cassy is sent from her grandmother's house to live with her flighty and eccentric mother until her grandmother comes to get her. Why? Why won't anyone tell her what's going on? What do wolves have do to with all of this? An interesting and intriguing tale. It's not at all what you think it might be; definitely worth a read.

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

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is by Barbara Robinson. Beware the Herdman's! They are the worst kids in the history of kid kind. They are mean, they bully other kids, they lie, cheat, steal, commit arson, and smoke cigars. Wait until they take over the Christmas pageant and end up teaching everyone what Christmas is really all about. A tender and amusing tale.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Double Fudge

Double Fudge is by Judy Blume. Fudge loves money; no, I mean he really LOVES money. He is driving his older brother and parents nuts. But when Peter and his family meet some long lost relatives on a trip to Washington, D.C., life really begins to spiral out of control. A spectacularly funny and endearing story.

Ratings: 5th grade - 10 out of 10.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes is by Ray Bradbury. A chilling, yet heartwarming tale, by the king of science fiction writers. Will and Jim are best friends. Jim's father has left and Will's is older than most fathers of boys his age. Life in Green Town, Illinois, is fairly peaceful until the carnival comes to town. The boys know right away this is no ordinary carnival. As lives of people they know begin to be touched by the evil of the autumn people the boys and Will's father must learn to trust each other. This is a creepy story that makes the things we all wish for in life seem to be the stuff of nightmares. A true horror classic.

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

Because of Winn Dixie

Because of Winn Dixie is by Kate DiCamillo. This is the story of India whose father is a preacher. They move so her father can pastor a new church and she finds herself alone and still missing her mother who left the family years before. Then she finds a stray dog she names Winn Dixie and everything begins to change. Through Winn Dixie she meets new friends, gets a job, grows closer to her father, and becomes more accepting of her mother's abandonment. A wonderful heart warming tale of love and friendship.

Ratings: 4th grade - 10 out of 10.

A Long Way from Chicago

A Long Way from Chicago is by Richard Peck. A companion book to A Year Down Yonder, this is the story of Mary Alice and her brother Joe as they leave Chicago to visit their eccentric grandmother in the country. If you can read this book without laughing out loud, there is something wrong with you. Grandma is outlandish, loving, and more community oriented that she would have you believe. A wonderful book, by a witty and amusing author. This book gives you a look at family life in the early to mid 1900s.

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is by Elizabeth George Speare. This is the classic tale of Kit Tyler, who leaves Barbados upon the death of her grandfather to live with her aunt and uncle in Connecticut. Coming from the Caribbean to New England is bad enough, but her relatives are Puritans and their lifestyle is very different from what Kit is used to. Things go poorly until she meets a mysterious woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond; Kit finds a friend and is then is accused of witchcraft herself. A wonderful book of friendship, family ties, and the difference between right and wrong.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

The View from Saturday

The View from Saturday is by E.L. Konigsburg. When Mrs. Olinski tries to put together four students for the 6th grade Academic Bowl she is aware no 6th grade team has ever beat the 7th & 8th graders in the school, much less in the state. This is the hilarious story of four very different students who are bound together by family ties and friendship. The stories that bind these students are delightful and fun to read. This is a highly recommended book.

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In the Stone Circle

In the Stone Circle is by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Cristyn, 14, is spending the summer in Wales while her professor father does research in medieval studies. Her mother, who died when she was three, was born in Wales. She finds she likes the centuries-old cottage they rent along with her father's colleague, Erica Dunham, and her two children, Miranda and Dennis. Miranda is angry and hurt over her parents' divorce. The children become involved in trying to make sense of strange happenings in the cottage. The ghost story is woven together with the issues and conflicts being worked out in both families.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Horns & Wrinkles

Horns & Wrinkles is by Joseph Helgerson. This is a delightful tale of a young girl and her cousin Duke. They live on the Mississippi River between Minnesota and Wisconsin. When Duke is placed under a spell by a fairy and sprouts a horn, Claire must rescue him from the river trolls who want to sell him to a fierce rock troll. Readers of all ages will enjoy this story of courage, friendship, and family. It is fast paced and funny.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Psyche in a Dress

Psyche in a Dress is by Francesca Lia Block. These contemporary retellings of Greek myths are poignant and moving; however, if you aren't familiar with Greek mythology they may be confusing. The tales are told in short prose pieces and free verse vignettes that work together to combine the myths into one fluid tale. The metaphors are complex and intellectual. They are also quite graphic, in typical Block style. If you are a fan of Greek mythology and/or Block you will enjoy this book very much.

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

I, Coriander

I, Coriander is by Sally Gardner. This charming tale is set during the reign of Oliver Cromwell in England. Coriander and her family live a happy life, until the day the silver shoes arrive. Her mother doesn't want her to have them but Coriander finds them and puts them on. She finds herself transported to a magical world. When she returns her mother becomes ill and dies and her grief stricken father is talked into marrying an evil woman with a daughter of her own. When she finds herself locked in a chest waiting to die, Coriander's journey truly begins. This tale is Cinderella meets The Faerie Path. The one complaint is the evil light in which Puritans are painted, but then the poor Puritans often get the short end of the story stick.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity).

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is by J.K. Rowling. The third installment in the Harry Potter series finds Harry and crew back at Hogwart's for another year. But this year isn't peaceful either, Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban Prison. Black was the heir apparent to Lord Voldemort and he's now after Harry. Harry isn't even safe inside Hogwart's, where it appears a traitor seeks his downfall as well.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.


East is by Edith Pattou. A magnificent fairy tale based on East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Rose has always dreamed of a white bear, so when a huge white bear comes to take her away she readily agrees. The white bear takes her to a distant empty castle where she weaves and is visited nightly by a mysterious visitor. When she learns the identity of the visitor she loses her heart and finds her destiny. She travels to the top of the world to rescue her white bear from the beautiful Troll Queen. A wonderful tale told through a variety of voices.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.


Golden is by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. The women in Lissy's family have always had some kind of extra sensory powers. Lissy sees people's auras. When her family moves from California to Oklahoma Lissy finds herself at odds with the popular clique at school called the "Goldens". She begins to discover there is something more evil walking the halls of the high school than just the popular set. Can she figure things out before it's too late? If you liked Barnes' second book Tattoo, you will enjoy this book which is actually the first book she published when she was 19.

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

Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely is by Melissa Marr. The first installment in Marr's Faerie tales. Aislinn has always seen faeries. All the women in her family have. They have always lived by three rules: don't look at the faeries, don't speak to them, and never attract their attention. Now the faeries have noticed her and she doesn't know what to do. She confides in her new love, Seth, and together they discover the Summer King has chosen Aislinn to be his new queen. Now what does she do? A modern faerie tale full of mortal love, faerie intrigue, and ancient rules.

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

Strange Angels

Strange Angels is by Lili St. Crow. The first book in a new series of the same name. Wow! This book has a very bizarre premise. Dru Anderson and her father travel around the country hunting "things that go bump in the night". Dru thinks her life is pretty good, until her Dad is killed and brought back as a zombie. Now, the things they have always hunted are hunting her. Who can she trust? Graves, the newly bitten werewolf, or Christophe, the half human vampire hunter? Where can she go to learn what is really happening? Can she make it through the night? This series promises to be dark and violent; but it also promises to be quite good.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence) - S (non graphic sexual content).

Eighth Grade Bites

Eighth Grade Bites is by Heather Brewer. The first book in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series. Vlad is half human, half vampire; his parents were killed in a fire and he is living with his mother's best friend who does her best to help him integrate with regular human life. Vlad has typical 13-year-old problems: a pack of bullies at school, a principal who dislikes him, a girl he wants to ask out. When a substitute teacher's questions hit a little too close to home, Vlad begins to wonder if his parents' deaths were really an accident. A great new series for those who really enjoyed Cirque Du Freak.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - V (violence).

Independence Hall: I, Q the Series

Independence Hall: I, Q the Series is by Roland Smith. This is the opening book in a new series by Smith. Those who love the Alex Rider series will enjoy this one as well. Girls will also enjoy this series due to the female character involved. Quest (Q) and Angela are now step-siblings. Their singer/songwriter parents are married and off on a cross country tour. Strange things begin to happen and Q finds out that Angela's real mother was a Secret Service agent killed by terrorists - or was she? Angela is being followed; is their new bus driver one of the good guys or bad guys? This promises to be a great series for middle school readers.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.


Dreamland is by Sarah Dessen. Caitlin's sister ran away on her 16th birthday. Her parents are so devastated they seem to forget Caitlin is still around. As Caitlin struggles to deal with her sister's disappearance she meets Rogerson Biscoe. He's handsome, magnetic, and different from anyone she has ever known. He makes her forget Cass is gone. But what happens when the cure is worse than the disease? If you like Dessen's work you will enjoy this novel of troubled teenage relationships. There is profanity, violence, and recreational drug and alcohol abuse, but none of it is gratuitous it is integral to the plot.

Ratings: 10th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence) - S (non graphic sexual content).

Lord of the Shadows

Lord of the Shadows is by Darren Shan. The 11th book in the Cirque Du Freak series. Darren, and the Cirque Du Freak, return to his home town. Steve is waiting for him there. As Darren attempts to destroy the Vampaneze Lord once and for all, he discovers a terrible truth. Yet another cliffhanger ending in a series where nothing is really as it seems. There is only one more book in the series and this tale makes you hunger for the ending.

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Tempted is by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast. This is the 6th book in the House of Night series. Another exciting installment in a very cool series. Zoey and her "crew" have banished Kalona & Neferet from Tulsa. Now they must return to the House of Night and see what they can salvage from the ruins there. Aphrodite has another vision, Stevie Ray comes clean (almost), Zoey must deal with Erik/Heath/Stark/Kalona issues, and the school is in a shambles. This book has a surprising ending that makes you salivate for the next book.

Ratings: 10th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun is by Lorraine Hansberry. The classic play about American black culture and struggle in the 1960s. The play, set in Chicago, follows the story of the Younger family as they await the life insurance check from their father's death. Hansberry anticipated the issues blacks are still dealing with in America, from civil rights to women's rights to identity struggles to poverty. One can not help relating to the Younger's and their struggles, even if you are not black. A must read for those who seek to be well versed in American literature.

Ratings: 11th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (some mature thematic content).

The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon is by Dashiell Hammett. Hammett's classic tale of Sam Spade, the tough San Francisco detective, as he tries to solve the murder of his partner. The police think Spade killed his partner so he could continue his relationship with Archer's wife. But who is the beautiful redheaded client who asked for their help? And what is the "black bird" everyone thinks Spade can deliver? Can he solve this case before he's arrested or killed. A classic tale of detective noir - as good as the movie starring Bogart.

Ratings: 10th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Dr. Franklin's Island

Dr. Franklin's Island is by Ann Halam. Semi, Miranda, and Arnie survive a plane crash on their way to the rain forests of Ecuador. They find themselves on an island they believe to be deserted. Then they stumble into the hands of Dr. Franklin, a scientist, who is eager to use three teenagers who are presumed dead by the world in his experiments in genetic engineering. A modern version of the Wells' classic The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.


Stardust is by Neil Gaiman. Tristran Thorn loves Victoria Forester. To win her love, he promises to venture into Faerie and bring her a falling star. The star turns out to be a beautiful woman named Yvaine who is wanted by more people than just Tristran. A charming fantasy tale of good vs evil, freedom, and true love.

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


Matilda is by Roald Dahl. Matilda is a very bright young girl with very nasty parents and a horrible principal. She struggles to cope with what's wrong in her life and still help her beloved teacher Miss Honey. A cute little fantasy tale typical of Dahl's style.

Ratings: 4th grade - 6 out of 10.

Tales of Ancient Egypt

Tales of Ancient Egypt is by Roger Lancelyn Green. A classic collection of tales from Egyptian mythology and other stories of ancient Egypt. A charming introduction to Egyptian mythology and heroic tales. It even contains the Egyptian version of the Trojan War. A great little book.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Battle of the Labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth is by Rick Riordan. The fourth book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Annabeth and Percy are off on a quest through the labyrinth to find Daedalus and his workshop before Luke does. Grover & Tyson tag along as they search for the lost god Pan. The book ends with a terrible battle at Camp Halfblood, the rise of Kronos, the return of Nico, and the secret of Pan being revealed to the Council of Satyrs. The fifth and final book promises to be a gem. Another great entry in this wonderful series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

War Heroes: Voices from Iraq

War Heroes: Voices from Iraq is by Allan Zullo. Ten stories of American soldiers and their experiences in Iraq. A great look into the lives of true American heroes. Another wonderful book of non-fiction tales by this extremely readable author.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising is by Pam Munoz Ryan. When Esperanza's father is murdered, she and her mother must flee to America or her mother must marry her greedy uncle. In America they are no longer rich land owners but poor migrant farm workers. Esperanza wrestles with her new status. She must learn to work on a farm and care for others, including her sick mother. A tale of overcoming obstacles and the importance of family and friendship.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Ask Me No Questions

Ask Me No Questions is by Marina Budhos. A Bangladeshi family struggles to stay in the United States after 9/11. Nadira and her family came to the United States and overstayed their visas. They managed to stay under the immigration radar until 9/11 changed everything. When Nadira and her sister learn their father and uncle are arrested as suspected terrorists, the girls must put together documentation to prove their innocence. An interesting tale of illegal immigration from the point of view of the immigrants.

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

The Hunt Club

The Hunt Club is by Bret Lott. This is the story of a teenage Southern boy whose blind uncle runs a "hunt club" on several thousand acres of land. Every weekend rich doctors come to eat and hunt deer. One weekend Huger (You-Gee) and his Uncle Leland discover a dead body. This discovery sets in motion a chain of events that threaten Huger and everyone he cares about. When Huger untangles this web of murder, deceit, and lies will he ever be the same again? Will he survive? A wonderful whodunit! Just when you think you've figured it all out you realize you've only uncovered another layer.

Ratings: 12th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Night is by Elie Wiesel. This classic short tale of Wiesel's Holocaust remembrances won him the Nobel Prize in 1986. Elie and his family were taken from a small Transylvanian town and transferred to Auschwitz and finally to Buchenwald. We share the death of his family, his innocence, and his faith. You cannot read this book and not be moved by the horrors of Nazi Germany. Required reading for the well read individual.

Ratings: 8th grade - 10 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt is by Elizabeth Payne. Egyptian history is explored in a very readable fashion. From Cheops to Rameses the Second we learn about the life and times of one of the world's oldest civilizations. A fantastic non-fiction read for young readers interested in mummies and ancient Egypt. Enough pictures to be interesting, but not enough to make this a picture book.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

School's Out - Forever

School's Out - Forever is by James Patterson. The second book in the Maximum Ride series. Max and her flock continue their struggle to survive and find their parents. When Fang is injured the flock finds itself living with an FBI agent and, OMG, going to school with regular kids. But things are never what they seem for Max and the gang. Just when you think you know what's coming, Patterson throws in another plot twist.

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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blue Moon

Blue Moon is by Alyson Noel. The second book in the Immortals series. Something is wrong with Damen. As Ever's powers grow she watches in horror as her beloved Damen becomes weaker and older. Is the new kid at school to blame? Is he really the nice guy he seems or the evil Ever believes him to be? In her search to cure Damen she discovers the ability to travel through time. Should she save Damen or return and rescue her entire family? Is there a correct choice and who can she trust to help her make it?

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

So Far From the Bamboo Grove

So Far From the Bamboo Grove is by Yoko Kawashima Watkins. A look at WWII from a less well known perspective. Yoko and her family must escape Korea at the end of WWII and return to Japan. Korea has been occupied by the Japanese for years and now the Korean Communists want to destroy the Japanese. The journey of this family is terrifying and remarkable. A true story of courage and survival in the aftermath of war. A fantastic introduction to non-fiction reading.

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence) - AC (some mature content).


Snakehead is by Anthony Horowitz. The 7th book in the Alex Rider series. Alex is recruited by the Australian Secret Service to infiltrate a gang of smugglers who specialize in drugs, weapons, and people. He takes the job only to have the chance to work with his newly discovered godfather and learn about his parents. What he discovers is a painful secret that could get him killed. Another great Alex Rider adventure.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

The Samurai's Tale

The Samurai's Tale is by Erik Christian Haugaard. A wonderful story of a young orphan boy who dreams of becoming a samurai in feudal Japan. He finds himself caught up in the power struggle to rule the country and must survive and find himself with honor. A enchanting look at society and life in 16th century Japan. Boys will love this story of courage, honor, and loyalty.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity).

A Trap in Time

A Trap in Time is by Celia Rees. The second installment of the Supernatural Trilogy. This is really two separate stories in one. At the beginning of the book, Davey suspects his new drama teacher is really the Grey Lady in disguise. He believes she is intending to do away with him in front of everyone in a play she is setting up for his school. Only his friends can save him, if he can get them to believe him. In the second half of the book, Davey and his friends must save a religious relic from being used for evil by a power-hungry human and the Judge.

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

Heroes, Gods, & Monsters of the Greek Myths

Heroes, Gods, & Monsters of the Greek Myths is by Bernard Evslin. A wonderful introduction to Greek mythology. It goes through the main gods, the nature myths (Echo & Narcissus, Pandora), the demigods (Perseus & Atlanta), and fables (King Midas). Evslin tells these timeless tales in a way that holds the reader and yet is faithful to the original Greek. A great little book.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dear Mr. Henshaw

Dear Mr. Henshaw is by Beverly Cleary. A young boy comes of age and deals with his parents' divorce by writing letters to the author of his favorite children's book. The author's responses and advice help Leigh to come to grips with his life and family problems. A cute story for less advanced readers.

Ratings: 5th grade - 8 out of 10.


Wolfling is by Gordon R. Dickson. One of Miss D's favorite science fiction authors, Dickson is also the author of Miss D's favorite science fiction novel, The Right To Arm Bears. Wolfling is the story of Jim Keil, who is sent from Earth to the Throne World to observe the High-born and determine if Earthlings are indeed descendants of these advanced beings. He becomes involved in a plot against the High-born Emperor that may destroy both the Throne World and Earth. Dickson is rated 9th grade merely for reading level. There is no profanity or mature content of any kind in this book. If you love hard core science fiction, you will love Dickson.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

Charlie Bone and the Time Twister

Charlie Bone and the Time Twister is by Jenny Nimmo. The second in the Children of the Red King series. Charlie is hoping for a better term than the last at Bloor's Academy. Then Henry Yewbeam appears, brought forward in time by the Time Twister. Henry is a relative and Charlie feels he must save both Henry and the Time Twister from the evil Bloor's. But with the Bloor's, his grandmother, and evil aunts out to stop him can he possibly succeed?

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Lady Friday

Lady Friday is by Garth Nix. The fifth of seven in The Keys to the Kingdom series. Four down and three to go for Lord Arthur, Rightful Heir to the House. He must rescue his friends from the Piper and save the House from an invasion by the New Nithling army and find the fifth part of the Will and the key held by Lady Friday, who holds his friend Leaf and other mortals, including possibly Arthur's own mother.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Cobra King of Kathmandu

The Cobra King of Kathmandu is by P.B. Kerr. Book three in the Children of the Lamp series. John & Philippa sneak away from home to help Dybbuk discover who murdered his friend and is trying to murder him. They travel from New York to London to Nepal to India and end up in the clutches of the Cult of the Nine Cobras. They must escape themselves and rescue Nimrod and Mr. Rakshasas as well. Another excellent installment in an enjoyable series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is by Ann Brashares. Four best friends must separate for the summer. They decide to share a pair of jeans that fit all four miraculously well. Each will have the pants and then pass them on to the next in turn. All four must face a personal challenge and learn something about life, love, courage, and friendship. A wonderful journey for pants and reader alike. Some mature thematic content and slight profanity, but nonetheless a wonderful adventure.

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

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Battle for Skandia

The Battle for Skandia is by John Flanagan. This is book four in The Ranger's Apprentice series. Halt & Horace have finally found Will and Evanlyn, but now they must fight with the Skandians to save themselves and Araluen from the Temujai who are invading from the eastern steppes. Can they persuade their recent enemies to accept their aid? Can they defeat a force more than twice their size? Another adventure packed installment in this wonderful series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Transall Saga

The Transall Saga is by Gary Paulsen. Mark decides to take a solo camping trip in the desert. A nice restful time alone, or so he thinks. A beam of blue light transports him to what appears to be another planet. He must learn to survive in this new world even as he looks for a way home. His encounters with primitive tribes force him to grow up and learn that he is not as helpless as he thinks. Paulsen's experience with survival tales is evident in this foray into science fiction. Both fans of science fiction and fans of Paulsen will love this book.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice is by Anonymous. The horrific story of a young teenager's introduction to, and descent into the world of drug abuse. As terrifying and poignant now as it was 25 years ago, this is a book all teenagers and their parents should read. There is profanity and mature content, but the message is as necessary and vital today as when it was originally published. We highly recommend this book.

Ratings: 10th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gregor the Overlander

Gregor the Overlander is by Suzanne Collins. The first book in the Underland Chronicles. Eleven-year-old Gregor follows his two-year-old sister into an air vent in the laundry room of their apartment complex and falls into the Underworld. Their arrival tears apart the fragile peace between the human dwellers, the rats, bats, cockroaches, and spiders. Gregor just wants to go home until he discovers his missing father may be alive in the Underworld and only he can save him. A fascinating tale of heroism and the realities of war put forth in a way young people can easily understand.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is by J.K. Rowling. The second book in the Harry Potter series. Harry and friends return to Hogwarts for their second year. He was warned by a house elf that something terrible is brewing. When someone or something starts turning people to stone, the three friends must do everything in their power to save the school. But could the culprit really be Hagrid? Another must read for Harry fans everywhere.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Lost Colony

The Lost Colony is by Eoin Colfer. The fifth installment in the magical adventures of Artemis Fowl. Demons were transported to another dimension thousands of years ago. The time tunnel that connects their world to ours is deteriorating. To save the demons from extinction Artemis and Holly must rescue a captured imp from another teenage genius and return him to the island of Hybras and return the island to our time. But will everyone return from Hybras intact and alive? Another exciting tale in an ever enjoyable series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Read Between My Lines: The Musical & Life Journey of Stevie Nicks

Read Between My Lines: The Musical & Life Journey of Stevie Nicks is by Sandra Halliburton. This book walks you through the life and musical career of one of the most beloved female singer/songwriters of our time. The book is filled with great photographs and many quotes from Stevie and other members of Fleetwood Mac. An enjoyable read for all Stevie Nicks fans.

Ratings: 9th grade - 7 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Gettysburg is by MacKinlay Kantor. Three years into the Civil War the Union and Confederate forces meet in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for what would be three of the bloodiest days of the Civil War. It appeared the South would win, but through strategy, determination, and luck the Union won the day and turned the tide of the war. An excellent book that walks us through the entire battle and its aftermath.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Dark of the Moon

Dark of the Moon is by Rachel Hawthorne. The third in the Dark Guardian series. Brittany has reached her time of transformation, but she hasn't been feeling the intense sensations associated with turning. The only feelings she has are for Connor. Now that Lindsey has chosen Rafe does she stand a chance with him? Then her worst fear is realized and she doesn't transform. How can she ever hope to win Connor's love and be a Dark Guardian when she is not a Shifter? What is she willing to do to become one?

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


Outcast is by Michelle Paver. The fourth book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series. Torak's secret has been discovered and he is now an outcast, clanless, and hunted by all. He is alone and on the run with no one except Wolf by his side. Tainted by soul-sickness he finds himself drawn to the Soul Eaters. Can Renn find him in time? Can she save him? Will her own secret tear them apart forever? This series continues to be full of excitement, adventure, and the power of loyalty and friendship.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Lords of the Underworld Series

The Lords of the Underworld Series is by Gena Showalter. A series of paranormal romances that revolve around the fate of a host of immortal warriors who are cursed when they become possessed by the demons released from Pandora's box. The first book, The Darkest Night, is about Maddox, the bearer of Violence. How can Violence ever know love? Can these cursed warriors ever find peace with their fate? A fascinating and enjoyable series for readers over 18.

Ratings: Adult - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (graphic sexual content).

Secrets Of A Civil War Submarine: Solving The Mysteries Of The H. L. Hunley

Secrets Of A Civil War Submarine: Solving The Mysteries Of The H. L. Hunley is by Sally M. Walker. During the Civil War the South built the first submarine designed to sink enemy ships. After its first success, the Hunley never came back. 130 years later it was found and salvaged. This is the story of the Hunley and her crew. A wonderful book to get kids into nonfiction. Full of diagrams and pictures that are beautiful as well as intriguing.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Magic and Other Misdemeanors

Magic and Other Misdemeanors is by Michael Buckley. The fifth book in the Sisters Grimm series. While Granny Relda struggles to come up with money to pay the taxes, the sisters must locate three magical items that have been stolen. Someone is using the items to open up tears in time and if they can't be found and stopped the future for everyone in Ferryport Landing could be very "grim". Mr. Canis is becoming more like the Big Bad Wolf every day and Sabrina and Daphne wonder if they can save their parents, their friend, and their town.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Leven Thumps & the Whispered Secret

Leven Thumps & the Whispered Secret is by Obert Skye. The second book in the series finds Leven struggling to save both Geth and Winter. Geth is hardening and if he doesn't get to the turrets he will be a dead toothpick. Winter has been captured by Jamoon and Leven must rescue her as well. He has also dug up a buried secret that could be deadly in the wrong hands. Can he restore Geth to the throne of Foo, rescue Winter, and master his own powers before it's too late?

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Oh My Goth

Oh My Goth is by Gena Showalter. Showalter, who is better known for adult romances such as the Atlantis novels and the Lords of Underworld Series, tries her hand at young adult fiction. Jade is a goth in a school full of "Barbies". She and her friends are constantly ridiculed and mocked. When she and her worst enemy Mercedes run afoul of the school's evil principal, Ms. Hamilton decides to "teach them a lesson". The principal tricks their parents into signing a consent form for a "field trip". The girls find themselves strapped down, sedated, and sent into a virtual universe where the goths are the popular kids and the Barbies are the "freaks". Her only chance of getting back home is with help from Mercedes and a handsome new kid named Clarik. A bizarre but entertaining tale that reads much more realistically than it sounds.

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

The League Series

The League Series is by Sherrilyn Kenyon. The series opens with Born of Night. These are pre-Dark Hunter novels that are now being returned to print. The Ichidian Universe is run by the League, who has an expertly trained and highly valued core of assassins who uphold their rulings. But what happens when the League becomes corrupt? Command Assassin Nykyrian Quiakides turns his back on the League and becomes the most hunted man in the universe. He forms his own group of assassins to protect innocents from League "justice". Instead of demons, Dark Hunters, and gods, Kenyon turns to science fiction in this series. The books are full of her typical brand of caustic humor and tortured heroes. Kenyon's Minions will love this series as well. Not recommend for those under 18.

Ratings: Adult - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence) - S (graphic sexual content).

Full Moon

Full Moon is by Rachel Hawthorne. The second book in the Dark Guardian series. Lindsey is approaching the first full moon after her seventeenth birthday; the time of her turning. Now she must choose her mate to help her through it. Will she choose Connor, her friend and the mate her parents chose long ago? Or will she choose the dark and brooding Rafe? As the danger to the pack increases so does the tension between Rafe and Connor; a fight over Lindsey seems inevitable. Will it be a fight to the death? Which will she choose and which will die?

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

True Mystery Stories

True Mystery Stories is by Finn Bevan. A wonderful collection of true mystery tales sure to engage the most reluctant reader. Does the Loch Ness Monster exist? Was Robin Hood real or fictional? What is the truth of UFO's? Who was the real model for the Mona Lisa? What happened to the Mary Celeste? A great introduction to nonfiction reading.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Time Machine

The Time Machine is by H.G. Wells. A classic tale of time travel by the master of science fiction writing. The Time Traveller invents a machine to take him through time. He travels to the year 802701 and encounters the beautiful and peaceful Eloi and the ugly and warlike Morlocks. When the Morlocks capture the time machine, the Traveller must get it back if he wants to return to his own time. Can he escape the future or will he lose his life trying?

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

Argeneau Vampire Series

The Argeneau Vampire Series is by Lynsay Sands. The first book in this paranormal romance series is called A Quick Bite. You quickly become immersed in the inner workings of the Argeneau family. A family of ancient immortals who resent being called "vampires". Sands takes the traditional vampire mythology in a completely new direction. Vampirism is scientific and began thousands of years ago in Atlantis as an experiment using nanotechnology to fight disease and injury - an experiment that worked too well. Now immortals continue to live among us trying to keep their existence secret, find their life mates, and police the rogues in their society who don't want to play nice with mortals. Sands' work is full of humor and excitement as well as romance. A great new series for vampire loves over the age of 18. A close second to Sherrilyn Kenyon on our list of favorites.

Ratings: Adult - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (graphic sexual content).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Royal Blood

Royal Blood is by Ellen Schreiber. The latest entry in the Vampire Kisses series. Raven is getting ready to start school. Yuck! She has to see Trevor Mitchell again. Double Yuck! Then she discovers Alexander's parents are returning. After they arrive it seems everyone has seen them except Raven. Why is Alexander hesitating about introducing her to his folks? Is he afraid they won't accept her? What if they don't? Finally she is invited to dinner and discovers something that could change her life forever. Another fun and exciting read in this cute series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Lake of Souls

The Lake of Souls is by Darren Shan. The tenth installment in the saga of Darren Shan. Harkat's nightmares are getting worse. Mr. Tiny says he must travel to the Lake of Souls and find out who he was in life or he will go insane. Darren and Harkat set off together to find the answers to Harkat's previous identity. Will they succeed? What awaits them in the murky waters of the dead? Another exciting adventure in the Cirque Du Freak series.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods is by Melissa de la Cruz. The first book in the Blue Bloods series. A interesting new take on vampire legend. In this one vampires are fallen angels hoping to work their back into heaven's grace. These "blue bloods" are reincarnated over and over and their vampire tendencies don't show until they reach puberty. Schuyler Van Alen attends an exlusive prep school with other blue bloods. They are supposed to be immortal, but when a classmate dies Schulyer wants the truth about herself and the rest of her kind.

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


Moonlight is by Rachel Hawthorne. The first book in the Dark Guardian series. Kayla has returned to the national forest where her parents were killed when she was a child. She has taken a job as a guide to work through her issues. Her first assignment is to help guide a team of werewolf hunting scientists to a remote part of the forest. On the way she discovers that her handsome lead guide is a werewolf and that, surprise, she is too. A fascinating series with the werewolves as the good guys for a nice change of pace.

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

Tears of a Giraffe

Tears of a Giraffe is by Alexander McCall Smith. The 2nd book in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Precious is pondering her future with Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni who has adopted two children from the orphan home without telling her. She has also promoted her talented secretary to "assistant detective" and given her her first case. She must also solve the case of a missing American boy so his mother can find peace. Another wonderful look into the culture of Botswana and its residents.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity).


Beardance is by Will Hobbs. The sequel to Bearstone. Cloyd is still living in Colorado with Walter Landis. They head back into the mountains to look for gold and discover a mother grizzly and her cubs. Cloyd is still haunted by the death of the grizzly he feels he caused last year. When the mother grizzly is killed in a freak accident, Cloyd is determined to stay with the cubs until they are old enough to den. But winter is deepening in the mountains, can Cloyd or the cubs survive? Another Hobbs masterpiece.

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.

Night Wings

Night Wings is by Joseph Bruchac. A young American Indian teen goes to live with his grandfather while his parents are deployed in Iraq. It does not look like an exciting time, until he and his grandfather are kidnapped by treasure hunters. The treasure they seek is buried on a mountain the Indians believe is haunted by a creature of great power and terror. Paul has always thought Pmola was a legend, but is he? Another Bruchac masterpiece for boys.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity).

I Was a Teenage Fairy

I Was a Teenage Fairy is by Francesca Lia Block. Another one of Block's postmodern fairy tales that combines elements of painful reality with fantasy. Barbie and Griffin are both teen models, forced to model by fame-chasing mothers. They were also abused by the same photographer and have told no one. Barbie struggles to deal with her abuse by talking to Mab, a fairy, who may or may not be real - but is very real to Barbie (and Griffin and readers). If you are a fan of Block you will love this tale, as it is typical of her writing. You can feel the pain these teens are going through as they struggle to survive their abuse any way they can. It contains mature content, non-graphic sexual references, references to recreational drug use, and profanity.

Ratings: 10th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (non-graphic sexual references).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Montmorency's Revenge

Montmorency's Revenge is by Eleanor Updale. The fourth book in the saga of Montmorency and his dual life. After George is murdered, Montmorency and Jack set out to find the killers and take revenge. Can he learn to be a father to Tom? Can he stop Farcett's slide into insanity? Can he teach the next generation to forgive when the need for revenge is eating at his own soul? As he races around the globe seeking to stop the anarchist's from killing again he must come face to face with his own past once and for all.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Titan's Curse

The Titan's Curse is by Rick Riordan. The third book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Percy, Thalia, and Annabeth rush to help Grover rescue two new half-bloods from Luke and the evil Kronos. After Annabeth and Artemis are captured Percy, Thalia and Zoe (one of Artemis' hunters) have only a short time to save them and prevent the Titan's Curse from destroying the Olympian gods and the human world. But will they fall prey to the curse, and who will be the ones the Oracle says will never return? Another great installment in the series.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees is by Sue Monk Kidd. Lily lives in South Carolina with an abusive father and a black "stand-in mother" named Rosaleen who has taken care of her since her mother was killed. Determined to register to vote Rosaleen insults three racists and is thrown in jail and beaten. Lily decides to free Rosaleen and run away to Tiburon, a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by three beekeeping black sisters she is introduced to the world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna. A remarkable novel set against the civil rights struggle of 1964. A powerful tale of healing, forgiveness, and the power of love.

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


Impossible is by Nancy Werlin. A fantastically amazing story based on the song "Scarborough Fair". Lucy is seventeen and getting ready for her prom. She is looking forward to her future; true her birth mother is mentally unstable, but she has wonderful foster parents and her childhood neighbor and friend, Zach. When Lucy becomes pregnant after being raped by her prom date she discovers that the women in her family are cursed by the Elfin Knight to become pregnant at 17 and go mad after the baby's birth. She decides to keep the child and find a way to complete the three "impossible" tasks that will break the curse. Her foster parents rally around to support her and her relationship with Zach matures from friendship to love. But can she and her child escape from the evil Elfin Knight's curse? A wonderfully enchanted new take on fairy tales from a modern perspective. There is mature thematic content, although there are no graphic descriptions of any kind.

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

The Rise of the Black Wolf

The Rise of the Black Wolf is by Derek Benz & J.S. Lewis. The second book in The Grey Griffins series. Max and his friends are off to Scotland to spend Christmas at his father's castle. But things begin to go wrong when a pack of werewolves appear and come after the Grey Griffins, and if that isn't bad enough Max's dad is taken by Morgan LaFey. She threatens to kill him unless Max brings her the Spear of Ragnarok which only he can find. Can the Griffins find the spear and save Max's dad? Perhaps, but things are not at all as they appear. This book has a totally unexpected ending.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Eagle is by Jeff Stone. Book five in The Five Ancestors series continues the story from Ying's point of view. Ying and Hok continue to search for the dragon treasure and avoid capture by Tonglong. Ying has been deceived by the Emperor and Tonglong. Is there anyone he can trust? Left with no choice but to trust the very five young monks he tried to kill, Ying continues his search for his past and the treasure. The tale of the young monks continues to flow in a seamless fashion that is not interrupted by every book's change of perspective. Young boys will devour this series.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Soul Eater

Soul Eater is by Michelle Paver. The third installment in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. Torak and Renn are in the Far North searching for Wolf who has been taken by the Soul Eaters. What do they want with him? Can Renn and Torak rescue him in time and save their world from the machinations of the evil Soul Eaters? This series is thoroughly enjoyable. Every installment is better than the last. Can't wait for the next volume!

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Son of the Mob

Son of the Mob is by Gordon Korman. Vince Luca has a problem. His father is the local mob boss and even though he wants no part of "the life" he is still his father's youngest son. He also has a new girlfriend, whose father is the FBI agent assigned to build the case against his father. How does he tell Kendra who his father is? How does he explain why he can't meet her parents and she can't meet his? He can't exactly get the folks together for a meet-and-greet! A funny and amusing story of a young man's struggle to do the right thing in a world where everything he has and does seems to be wrong.

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

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grip of the Shadow Plague

Grip of the Shadow Plague is by Brandon Mull. The third book in the Fablehaven series. Kendra goes off with Warren, Tanu, and Coulter to join the Knights of the Dawn. She is immediately sent to Arizona on a secret mission. Meanwhile at Fablehaven Seth discovers something is turning creatures of light into creatures of darkness. Will Kendra survive and return to Fablehaven? Can Seth and the rest of the family stop the plague before Fablehaven is destroyed? Another exciting installment in a great series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Justified Deception

Justified Deception is by Paul Lillard. WWII is raging and it looks like the British are losing ground rapidly. FDR knows he can't get the U.S. into the war unless America is attacked. He meets with Churchill and devises a scheme to trick the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor so the U.S. can enter the war on the side of the Allies. Although this book is pure fiction, it is full of historically accurate information and characters. As the author states, "It didn't happen, but it could have." Mr. Lillard was Miss Dayna's neighbor and has recently passed away. He was a Korean war vet and hero and it was Miss D.'s honor and privilege to work with him on this book.

Ratings: 11th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity).

Wild Man Island

Wild Man Island is by Will Hobbs. Andy Galloway is 14 and on a kayaking trip to Alaska. He leaves the group to visit the spot where his father died years before and on the way back is caught in a storm and swept up onto Admiralty Island. Struggling to survive Andy encounters a run away dog and the secretive wild man who lives on Admiralty. The dog leads Andy to the wild man's secret cave filled with Stone Age weapons. Afraid of the wild hermit Andy retreats deeper into the cave where danger and discovery await. Another Hobbs gem.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Evermore is by Alyson Noel. The first book in the new Immortals series. Ever Bloom barely survived the car accident that killed her family. But the sixteen-year-old can now see people's auras, hear their thoughts, and know someone's entire life just by touching them. She also sees dead people, including her dead sister. Then Damen Auguste enters her life and the voices are silenced, and he's gorgeous, wealthy, and wields a magic she doesn't understand. Who is Damen? And what does he want with Ever? Can she trust him? Does that matter when she loves him? This is a very different and interesting series. You can't help looking forward to the next book.

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

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal is by Ellen Emerson White. An interesting biography of the famous NBA star. It is full of stats and basketball trivia. A good introduction to non-fiction for young boys. A quick and easy read.

Ratings: 6th grade - 6 out of 10.

The Dollhouse Murders

The Dollhouse Murders is by Betty Ren Wright. Amy is fed up with being responsible for her mentally challenged sister and never having any privacy or friends of her own. In a fit of rage she goes to stay with her aunt. While there she discovers a dollhouse in the attic. A dollhouse that lights up at night and whose dolls move on their own. Are the dolls trying to tell her something? How are the movements of the dolls connected to her great-grandparents' murder? A clever story of family, sacrifice, and love.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Killers of the Dawn

Killers of the Dawn is by Darren Shan. The ninth book in the Cirque Du Freak series. Darren and his friends are on the run; chased by the police, the vampaneze, and an angry mob. Still they must rescue Debbie and kill the Vampaneze Lord. Can they do both and at what cost? Another great book in the series. The ending is surprising, terrible, and poignant.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (violence) - MP (very mild profanity).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Turn Coat

Turn Coat is by Jim Butcher. The 11th installment in the Dresden Files. Just when Harry thinks his headache is as bad as it can get, Morgan appears. Morgan is badly injured and has been accused of murdering a member of the White Council. He claims to be innocent and wants Harry to help him prove his innocence. To quote Harry, "You have got to be kidding me!" In typical Harry fashion it's all conspiracy and dead bodies from there. Butcher grabs you from page one and you can't put the book down. The only problem is that you have to wait for the next book!

Ratings: 11th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence) - S (non-graphic sexual references) - AC (mature thematic content)

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted is by Gail Carson Levine. This is a charming take on the traditional Cinderella tale. Ella is the daughter of a rich merchant. At her birth the fairy Lucinda curses Ella with the "gift" of obedience. When given an order she must obey no matter what. After her mother's death her step-sister discovers the curse and makes Ella's life miserable. Ella decides to find Lucinda and have her rescind the "gift". Will she succeed? Will she get to go to the ball? And what about Prince Char? A very cute tale, much better than the movie version.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Buccaneers

The Buccaneers is by Iain Lawrence. The final installment in the High Seas Trilogy finds John Spencer on the Dragon headed for Jamaica on a trading venture. On the way they pick up a man drifting in a boat. There is something about Horn and his story that seems odd. Can he be trusted? Then the Dragon runs into a real pirate ship and the answers to the questions about Horn become even more important. A wonderful tale with a surprise ending. Another gem from Lawrence for boys.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Prophet of Yonwood

The Prophet of Yonwood is by Jeanne DuPrau. The third book Book of Ember is really a prequel to the first book. Eleven-year-old Nickie and her aunt go to Yonwood, North Carolina to see about the sale of a family home. Nickie discovers one of the town women has had a vision of the end of the world and has become known as "the Prophet" whose every saying must be obeyed. Is her vision correct? Is the world really on the brink of destruction? Just because a person wants to do good, does that mean everything they do is good? A wonderful story of a child's battle to understand good and evil and the gray area in between.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Allies of the Night

Allies of the Night is by Darren Shan. The eighth installment in the Cirque Du Freak series. Darren, Mr. Crepsley, and Harkat are still trying to track down the evil Vampaneze Lord. Now Darren must face something even more evil - school! Darren also comes face to face with two people from his past. He is glad to see them both, but are both of them his friends? Shan fans will not be disappointed in this next chapter of the saga of young Darren.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10 - MP (very mild profanity) - V (violence).

Living Dead in Dallas

Living Dead in Dallas is by Charlaine Harris. The second book in the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries series. A worthy sequel to the first novel. Harris has a unique blend of humor, suspense, and down-home southern charm that is utterly addicting. In this edition, Bill and Sookie must fly to Dallas to aid the vampires there in finding a missing vampire. Sookie is also committed to finding Lafayette's murderer at home. She also discovers the existence of other "mythical" creatures, the hard and painful way.

Ratings: Adult - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (sexual content) - V (Violence).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is translated by Edward Fitzgerald. This book of Persian verse is beautifully illustrated by Edmund Dulac. These beautiful quatrains represent some of the best of Persian poetry. They are a joy to read and the illustrations are exquisite.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

Julius Caesar: The Life of a Roman General

Julius Caesar: The Life of a Roman General is by Gary Jeffrey & Kate Petty. This is a graphic novel non-fiction book that covers the life and career of Rome's first emperor. It is easy to read and also contains charts and maps to illustrate the major points of the story. An excellent way to get students on the road to non-fiction reading.

Ratings: 5th grade - 7 out of 10.

Ghost Liners: Exploring the World's Greatest Lost Ships

Ghost Liners: Exploring the World's Greatest Lost Ships is by Robert D. Ballard. Ballard discovered the wreck of the Titanic and takes us on a tour of the Titanic, the Empress of Ireland, the Lusitania, the Britannic, and the Andrea Doria. This book is filled with pictures and paintings of the ships. Ballard also gives a brief history of each ship, the circumstances surrounding its sinking, and the condition in which it was found. A wonderful treat in non-fiction for younger readers.

Ratings: 5th grade - 10 out of 10.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is by Alvin Schwartz. This is a short collection of ghost stories and poems to tell on a dark night around a campfire or at a slumber party. Schwartz also provides an appendix that gives the origins of most of the tales in the book and how they differ depending on the culture and country in which the story is being told.

Ratings: 4th grade - 6 out of 10.

Sleeping with Ghosts: A Ghost Hunter's Guide to Arizona's Haunted Hotels & Inns

Sleeping with Ghosts: A Ghost Hunter's Guide to Arizona's Haunted Hotels & Inns is by Debe Branning. An interesting trip through Arizona's haunted hotels. Each entry provides a history of the hotel and its owners and all of the ghost stories associated with each hotel and inn. It makes you want to take the book and start booking hotel rooms for a summer trip around the state. An enjoyable trip into Arizona history, whether or not you believe in ghosts.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Kokopelli's Flute

Kokopelli's Flute is by Will Hobbs. Tepary Jones is fascinated by an ancient cliff dwelling called Picture House. One night he watches two grave robbers chip into the dwelling walls looking for priceless treasures. He scares them away and they leave behind an ancient bone flute. He knows he shouldn't keep the flute, but he does and when he puts it to his lips - the magic begins. Another Hobbs gem for boys.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Back to the Divide

Back to the Divide is by Elizabeth Kay. The second book in the Divide series. When Snakeweed turns his parents to stone, Felix must return across the Divide to find the spell to set things right. He reunites with Thornbeak, Ironclaw, and Betony. He finds things are not well in their world either since his departure and he must help them to help himself. Can he find a cure for his parents before everything in our world turns to stone? Can he and his friends find the missing king and queen and defeat Snakeweed once and for all?

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

No More Dead Dogs

No More Dead Dogs is by Gordon Korman. Wallace Wallace has never told a lie. While this may seem like a good thing, it can cause problems. When he refuses to write a book report stating he liked a book beloved by his English teacher, he finds himself serving detention working on the school's production of this book by the drama department. A story of what happens when honesty, while the best policy, may not be the most comfortable.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Skinny-Dipping at Monster Lake

Skinny-Dipping at Monster Lake is by Bill Wallace. A totally boys book. This is the tale of a group of boys enjoying the end of summer at the lake near their homes. While camping out some of them believe they have seen the famous lake monster. What they discover is a mystery as surprising and dangerous as eight young boys can handle. A great story for boys; chock full of young boy humor.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Tiger Woods: An American Master

Tiger Woods: An American Master is by Nicholas Edwards. This is a biography of the life and career of Tiger Woods. There is a lot of golf and golf lingo in this book. If you love golf it's a winner, if you're not a golf lover it can be a bit tedious. Regardless of your feelings about golf, Tiger's story is something to read. A great way to get kids to read non-fiction.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass & What Alice Found There

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass & What Alice Found There is by Lewis Carroll. Carroll's classic tales of young Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. In the first book she follows the White Rabbit down a hole and discovers a true wonderland. In the second story she steps through the looking glass and returns to the realm of the Red Queen. Full of Carroll's poetry as well as his amazing story of a child's imagination. A must-read classic for all ages.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Five T'ang Poets

Five T'ang Poets is translated by David Young. This is an excellent representation of five famous Chinese poets: Wang Wei, Li Po, Tu Fu, Li Ho, Li Shang-Yin. None of these poets specialize in haiku, this is real Chinese poetry beautifully translated. A wonderful introduction to these five great artists.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase: The Wolves Chronicles #1

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase: The Wolves Chronicles #1 is by Joan Aiken. Bonnie's parents are leaving on a trip so they bring in a governess to take care of Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia. When it seems her parents have been killed when their boat sinks off the coast of Spain, the evil Miss Slighcarp takes over. She sells all of Bonnie's toys and other household furnishings, fires the servants, and sends Bonnie and Sylvia to a terrible orphanage. With the help of Simon the goose boy the girls escape and head for London to seek help.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Southern Vampires: 13 Deep-Fried Bloodcurdling Tales

Southern Vampires: 13 Deep-Fried Bloodcurdling Tales is by Karyn Kay Zweifel. A collection of 13 Southern folktales involving vampires of all sorts. From a charming lady who collects husbands, to a Texas family haunted by psychic vampires, to a vampire who "assists" the elderly, these tales are filled with Southern charm. This is a truly enjoyable collection of Southern folksy horror. Spooky and yet not grossly so. A charming way to spend a dark rainy night.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10.

Gilda Joyce Psychic Investigator

Gilda Joyce Psychic Investigator is by Jennifer Allison. Gilda has wanted to communicate with the dead since her father died of cancer. Her desire to be a psychic investigator seems more than a little strange to those around her. She convinces a long lost relative to invite her to visit in San Francisco over the summer and discovers a cousin, a haunted house, and a mysterious tower that needs to be investigated. Can Gilda successfully solve her very first case? A cute and sometimes poignant story that holds the promise of a very clever series.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit

The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit is by Julius Lester. Lester has taken the beloved African-American folktales of Joel Chandler Harris and rewritten them slightly. The tales still contain the wonderful tales of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and company. Lester has merely taken the dialect that was so difficult for most of us in the original and made it a little more understandable for modern readers. While not as good as the original, this little book is a great introduction to the "real thing". Enjoy!

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Boy Who Owned the School

The Boy Who Owned the School is by Gary Paulsen. All Jacob wants is to remain invisible, unnoticed by everyone at school. All is going well until his English teacher decides he needs to help with the school play for the extra credit he needs to pass her class. To make matters worse, he is to work the fog machine needed by the girl of his dreams. This is a disaster just waiting to happen. A very cute and funny tale of growing up.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Cay

The Cay is by Theodore Taylor. In 1942, 11-year-old Phillip Enright lives with his parents in the Caribbean where is father works for a Dutch oil company. As the war moves closer his mother decides to travel with him back to the safety of Virginia. When their boat is torpedoed, however, Phillip is blinded and finds himself adrift on a life raft with an old black man and a cat. They eventually land on a deserted island. Timothy must teach a blind boy to survive alone on an uninhabited island.

Ratings: 5th grade - 10 out of 10.

Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia is by Katherine Paterson. Ten-year-old Jess Aarons has never had a true friend. He comes from a poor family where his father must work hard and long to keep the family going. He hopes to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade at Lark Creek Elementary. But then Leslie Burke appears and his dreams are dashed. Leslie, with her wonderful imagination, becomes the friend Josh never had. They create their own secret place called Terabithia, where giants and ogres run free. But then, one day, a terrible tragedy occurs. One that makes Jess re-evaluate everything he has experienced in his life.

Ratings: 5th grade - 10 out of 10.


Shiloh is by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. The first book in the Shiloh trilogy is a wonderful tale of a boy and his dog. 11-year-old Marty finds a mistreated beagle pup. Should he return the dog to its cruel owner? Should he tell his parents? Should he steal food to help the poor creature? Marty's efforts to cope with these questions provides the moral backbone for this story. A wonderful story of love and devotion.

Ratings: 4th grade - 9 out of 10.

Hawk: Occupation: Skateboader

Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder is by Tony Hawk. The most famous skateboarder in the world tells his own story with the help of Sean Mortimer. This is a story of success and failure. Boys will love this book, especially if they have any interest in skating. The book is loaded with stats and pictures. A great way to get boys to read nonfiction literature. There is some profanity and potty humor in the book, but no more than would be expected from a book about the skateboarding culture.

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