Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Warlord's Daughter

The Warlord's Daughter is by Susan Grant. The second "Tale of the Borderlands" takes us back to the struggle for peace between the Coalition and the Drakken. The war is over, but peace is hardly a sure thing. Wren is the only living child of the evil Drakken Warlord, and she is the key to a treasure that can heal with galaxy. Both sides are seeking her, but she is tired of being a pawn. Aral is the son of a Drakken Battlelord and a feared Battlelord in his own right. For years he has worked to destroy the Drakken Empire he hates and win the Warlord's daughter he loves. Can he find her before anyone else does? Will she accept him? Can they learn to trust each other? Together they may be the galaxy's only chance for peace. A great read! I can't wait for the next installment in the series.

Ratings: Adult - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (mild sexuality).

Kingdom of the Golden Dragon

Kingdom of the Golden Dragon is by Isabel Allende. The saga of Alex and Nadia continues. This time Alex's grandmother, Kate, is traveling to the Forbidden Kingdom in Asia for a story on the kingdom's national treasure - the Golden Dragon. They find themselves in the middle of an adventure involving treasure hunters, kidnappers, Buddhist monks, yetis, and the prince of the country. Can they save the king and the Golden Dragon from the Scorpion Sect? This second book in the tale of Alex and Nadia is a fun read. If you liked the first one, you'll love this one.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.


Beast is by Peter Benchley. Whip Darling is a fisherman who knows everything there is to know about the waters off Bermuda. He sees his business failing as fish disappear. Then people start disappearing. Is it the Bermuda Triangle? Is it a sea monster? Can Whip kill the beast or will he be its next meal? If you liked Jaws, you'll enjoy this novel. A fun read with enough real science to keep purists turning the pages.

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

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Daybreakers

The Daybreakers is by Louis L'Amour. The saga of the Sacketts continues. These are the adventures of brothers, Tyrell and Orrin, who head west to seek a new life. After killing a man in a family feud the brothers head out to find a future and a new home for their ma. They find work on a cattle drive and meet Tom Sunday and Cap Roundtree who teach them all they need to know about life in the West. Orrin and Ty fall in love with very different women which might put them at odds in Santa Fe when war between whites and Mexicans in the new territory threatens. Another great addition in the adventures of the Sackett family. L'Amour does westerns better than anyone else.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.


Abduction is by Peg Kehret. Six-year-old Matt is tricked into leaving school with a father he has never known. He finds himself alone and headed to an unfamiliar place with an unstable and selfish father. His step-sister, Bonnie, must do everything in her power to find her brother. A very telling story about how reluctant adults are to listen to children when they ask for help and the possible consequences of not getting involved. The ending is cheesily happily-ever-after, but it is the ending you wish for in all these kinds of cases.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Blue is for Nightmares

Blue is for Nightmares is by Laurie Faria Stolarz. The first book in a new series, this is a scary and suspenseful read. Stacey has problems: she has a crush on her best friend's boyfriend, she is a witch, and her dreams come true. She has been dreaming about Drea who is being stalked by a real nutcase. It will take all her magic and courage to save Drea, but is Chad the killer? A really good read and a great start to an exciting series. It is intense, but a real page turner.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - AC (some mature thematic content).

Eagle Strike

Eagle Strike is by Anthony Horowitz. The fourth book in the Alex Rider series is pivotal. Alex is in France on vacation recovering from his last brush with death when he spots Yassen Gregorovich, the man who killed his uncle. He follows him and finds himself involved in another mission to save the world. This time though MI6 isn't backing Alex, they don't even believe him when he tries to tell them that philanthropist, peace activist, multi-millionaire Sir Damian Cray is behind it all. At the end, Alex discovers information that changes everything he believes about MI6 and himself. A great read, can't wait for the next book in the series!

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

The Conch Bearer

The Conch Bearer is by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The first book in The Brotherhood of the Conch series. Anand is a 12-year-old boy; his father left the country to work and has disappeared. The family is forced to move to the slums and is barely surviving. One day Anand meets an old man with mystical powers who is taking a magical conch back to the Silver Valley in the Himalayas. Abadhyatta tells Anand he is the next conch bearer and he needs him to help return the conch and keep it away from the evil Surabhanu. They are joined in their journey by a street waif named Nisha. Anand finds that he must make decisions that will change his life forever. Is he really worthy to be the next "conch bearer"?

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Grim Tuesday

Grim Tuesday is by Garth Nix. The second book in the Keys to the Kingdom series. This book is faster paced than the first book. Arthur is back in the House to claim the Second Key from Grim Tuesday and save the House and his own world as well. He has help from Suzy and other surprising creatures. He travels to the Far Reaches and other places to fight not only Grim Tuesday but the Nothing that threatens to break through and destroy everything. This series promises to be very entertaining.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Plum Spooky

Plum Spooky is by Janet Evanovich. Another "Between-the-Numbers" novel in the Stephanie Plum series. Diesel is back and he's after his cousin Wulf who is a very very bad guy. Wulf is working with one of Stephanie's FTA's and that means - you got it - Stephanie is in the middle again. She's also involved trying to help Morelli get rid of his brother who has moved in with Joe when his wife threw him out. Carl, the monkey, is back in this one and he is really the star of the novel. Carl rocks! Another hilarious entry in the series.

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

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Beast is by Donna Jo Napoli. A retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale from the point of view of the beast instead of Belle. Orasmyn is a young Persian prince who runs afoul of a fairy during the Feast of Sacrifice. He goes to sleep and awakens as a lion and then struggles to stay alive and find a way to break the curse. This is a powerful story of a young man trying to keep his human soul alive in the body of a lion. A great read for boys and girls. A good twist on a classic tale.

Ratings: 8th grade - 10 out of 10.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ghost Canoe

Ghost Canoe is by Will Hobbs. Another stellar story by Hobbs. Nathan MacAllister is the son of the lighthouse keeper on Tatoosh Island in Washington. He witnesses a shipwreck and, after hearing of footprints found on the beach and some thefts from the local trading post, refuses to believe there were no survivors. He spends time with his friend Lighthouse George, a Makah fisherman, and learns to hunt, fish, and whale. He also searches for clues to the missing Spanish gold supposedly hidden in the area. Is this what the mysterious "hairy man" is after? Will a ghostly canoe containing a skeleton unlock the key to this story of mystery, betrayal, and murder?

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.


Falcondance is by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. The Kiesha'Ra series continues in this third installment in the saga of the avians and serpiente. Nicias Silvermead is the son of two banished falcons who serve the Wyvern's Court. When Nicias' falcon magic begins to manifest he returns to Ahnmik to learn to control his powers. There he finds himself involved in a power struggle between the Empress and her heir (his grandmother). Will he stay and rule in his homeland or will he honor his vow and return to Wyvern's Court to protect Oliza Shardae Cobriana the heir to both thrones?

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jason and the Argonauts

Jason and the Argonauts is by retold by Felicity Brooks. The story of Jason and the search for the Golden Fleece in all it's exciting, romantic, and gory detail. Brooks remains faithful to the original tale, yet writes in a way that is understandable to younger readers. A great introduction to the tale and to Greek myths in general written as a graphic novel.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Ruins of Gorlan

The Ruins of Gorlan is by John Flanagan. The first book in the Ranger's Apprentice series. Will is an orphan, he and four other orphans are about to be "chosen" by the Craftmasters for their professions. Will wants to go to the Battleschool but is apprenticed to Halt the mysterious Ranger. What are the Rangers? Does Will have what it takes to be one? Does he have what it takes to save the kingdom and his master from the evil Morgarath? A great new series reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings in some ways.

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.

H.I.V.E.: The Higher Institute for Villainous Education

H.I.V.E.: The Higher Institute for Villainous Education is by Mark Walden. OMG! James Bond fans think the SPECTER school for master criminals. This book is a gem! Teenagers who show the aptitude to become master criminals are "kidnapped" and taken to H.I.V.E. which is located inside a volcano on a remote island - definite shades of 007 there! Otto, one of the most promising new recruits, wants out. He and three other students decide to plan an escape and the merry chase is on. This is a really cool series for boys and girls alike. I prefer it to the Alex Rider series, so if you liked Alex you will LOVE Otto and the boys (and girls).

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Crandall's Castle

Crandall's Castle is by Betty Ren Wright. Sophia has no family, her grandmother is dying and she is about to be sent to live with a distant relative, after stays in numerous foster homes. Sophia sees things before they happen and this has caused her nothing but trouble - so she's keeping quiet. Charli's mom has just remarried and while Charli likes Ray he doesn't seem to like her mother's family. Uncle Will and Aunt Lilly are quite a pair! Uncle Will has always got some get-rich-quick scheme going and this drives the very sensible Ray nuts. When Uncle Will buys a creepy old mansion to turn into a bed and breakfast Charli is excited to help - until she sees the ghost. Frustrated that no one will believe her, not even Sophia who now lives with the Crandall's, she doesn't know what to do - but the ghost is dangerous. Why won't anyone believe her? A spooky tale that brings home the importance of family.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Welcome to the ARK

Welcome to the ARK is by Stephanie S. Tolan. If you're expecting Surviving the Applewhites this isn't it! A dark somewhat depressing, yet hopeful, tale of a world on the edge. Told through interviews, emails, and memos, as well as text; this story tells the tale of four kids who have been sent to a private mental institution for troubled teens. They come for various reasons and from a variety of backgrounds, but are they really crazy? Placed together in an experimental group home called The ARK, they begin to discover they have unusual mental powers. But will they use these powers for good or evil? A disturbingly realistic look at the world through the eyes of "troubled" youth.

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

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is by Eoin Colfer. The first in the series makes you hunger for the rest. Artemis is a 12-year-old evil genius. The son of a famous crime family stretching back generations. However now that his father is missing, presumed dead, and his mother is bedridden in her grief the family needs cash. Artemis decides the best way to find his pot of gold (literally) is to kidnap a leprechaun and hold her for ransom. The resulting mayhem is delightful! A thoroughly enjoyable read. You can't dislike Artemis no matter how hard you try.

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.

Once Upon A Crime

Once Upon A Crime is by Michael Buckley. The fourth in the Sisters Grimm series finds the sisters and Granny Relda in New York. The girls, Granny, Mr. Canis, and Mr. Hamstead go to New York to find Puck's family. Then Puck's father, Oberon, is murdered and the Grimm's must find the real killer. Another gem from Buckley! Not only are young reader's introduced to the rest of the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream, but they also meet the Wizard of Oz, Sinbad the Sailor, Long John Silver, Mother Goose, and a never ending host of famous Everafters. Buckley's re-working of these characters is witty and thoroughly enjoyable. Can't wait for the next one!

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.

Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt

Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt is by Jean Fritz. Part of the "Unforgettable Americans" series, this is a wonderful biography of Teddy Roosevelt written in a way that younger readers will enjoy. It follows Teddy from his birth to San Juan Hill to his two terms as President. It is a fun read and a great way to introduce reluctant readers to non-fiction.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

What-the-dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy

What-the-dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy is by Gregory Maguire. This is a tale for younger readers written by the author of Wicked. During a storm three children are told a story by their uncle. It is the story of What-the-dickens, a tooth fairy. Born an orphan he struggles to discover what he is and where he fits in. He finds others of his kind and learns his history, but is not welcomed in by the tooth fairy community. The story slips back and forth between Gage telling the story and the story itself and that might be confusing for some readers. It is a cute tale and a fun read even if Maguire does take some snide swipes at Christian families and their values.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.


Sounder is by William H. Armstrong. The classic tale of a poor African-American family in the 19th century South. The boy's father is a sharecropper struggling to feed his family. When he steals a ham and is sent to prison the young son must take his place as provider. The fact that none of these characters, other than the dog, is ever named makes them even more realistic as they come to represent so many others who lived as they did during this period. A classic tale and a must read for persons wishing to be considered well read.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Golem's Eye

The Golem's Eye is by Jonathan Stroud. The second book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy. Three years have passed since Nathaniel last summoned Bartimaeus. The resistance has grown and Nathaniel has been unsuccessful in locating Kitty and her friends. Now a golem is loose in London and the magicians are panicked. Nathaniel summons Bartimaeus to help him track down the master of the golem, find the resistance, and save London - not to mention his own skin. Another stellar installment in this fascinating series. Bartimaeus has a wicked sense of humor and a conscience he doesn't want to own.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Ghost's Grave

The Ghost's Grave is by Peg Kehret. This is a cute story of a young boy who goes to stay with his great aunt for the summer and discovers a ghost. Josh meets the ghost of an old miner who wants him to dig up his leg bones and bury them with the rest of his body. Let's all say "EWWW"! When Josh digs up the bones he finds a box full of money and the excitement really starts. A very enjoyable read.

Ratings: 5th grade - 7 out of 10.