Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Land of the Silver Apples

The Land of the Silver Apples is by Nancy Farmer. The sequel to Sea of Trolls, this book is the second in a planned trilogy. When Lucy is kidnapped by the Lady of the Lake Jack, Thorgil, and a slave girl named Pega must travel to Elfland to get her back. Jack must learn to trust others and have faith in his own powers as a Bard. A great series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.


Infinity is by Sherrilynn Kenyon. The first book in the new Chronicles of Nick series. For years serious Dark Hunter fans have been asking for a series that could be shared with young adults - and now we have it. You don't have to be familiar with the Dark Hunter series to enjoy this one. Kenyon explains her world as she goes for the newcomers. Nick Gautier is a 14-year old streetwise teen who in ancient Greece would have been the god of sarcasm. Saved in an alley by a Dark Hunter that would make Chuck Norris look like a wimp, Nick finds himself sucked into a world of vampires, were-animals, and all manner of things that go bump in the night. If that's not enough now his school is being overrun by zombies. Just another normal day in the world of the Dark Hunters. A great introduction for beginning fans or for those already addicted.

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

The Fall of the Templar

The Fall of the Templar is by Derek Benz & J.S. Lewis. The final book in the Grey Griffins Trilogy. The Griffins face the most dangerous challenge of their lives. Ernie is still trapped in an enchanted coma and Max's father is trying to destroy the world. Max, his friends, and the few remaining Templars head to the Underworld to locate the Eye of Odin which will prevent Lord Sumner from using the Spear of Ragnarok before it's too late. 

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Stone Light

The Stone Light is by Kai Meyer. The second book in the Dark Reflections Trilogy. Serafin and Merle continue to try to save Venice from the Egyptian invasion. Merle, the Flowing Queen, and Vermithrax the stone lion head to Hell to enlist the aid of Lord Light. Serafin remains in Venice and joins a rebel group plotting to assassinate the Pharaoh. This series gets more exciting with each book and this one is loaded with twists, turns, and betrayals. A great series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Letters to a Young Poet

Letters to a Young Poet is by Rainer Maria Rilke. A selection of letters Rilke wrote to a young would-be poet. The letters touch on writing poetry and how to survive in a harsh world and remain a sensitive observer. The letters are an encouragement to any creative spirit struggling to maintain their artistry in a harsh world.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.


Pigtopia is by Kitty Fitzgerald. Jack Plum was born disfigured and mentally challenged. He has been labeled a monster and freak by thoughtless neighbors and his chronically ill mother. He, and his now missing father, built a sanctuary in the basement where Jack now shares himself with his beloved pigs. When he decides to share his world with a sensitive teenager who lives nearby he risks everything. A spellbinding tale of friendship, prejudice, and betrayal that will capture a reader's imagination and tug at your heart strings. A truly heartwarming and excellent book.

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

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is by Seth Grahame-Smith & Jane Austen. A quirky retelling of Austen's classic love story with the addition of zombies. Poor Jane is probably spinning in her grave! Lovers of the original should enjoy this slightly gory version. It is humorous, macabre, and delightful. We do recommend reading the original first.

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


Speak is by Laurie Halse Anderson. A must read masterpiece! Melinda is just entering high school, and if that's not hard enough she's a total outcast. She called the cops on a party in August and her friends hate her. She decides it's safer to be alone, but is it? There is something she's trying hard to forget, but it keeps haunting her. Will she be able to overcome her fears and find herself again? A wonderful and touching tale of overcoming tragedy and the need to speak out. A must read for all!

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

Tenth Grade Bleeds

Tenth Grade Bleeds is by Heather Brewer. The third installment in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod. Last year Vlad was staked through the heart and survived. He's hoping for a better year - yeah right! Things seems to be going well with Meredith, but Henry has decided he doesn't want to be Vlad's drudge anymore. Vlad's appetite for blood has increased tremendously, he's being hunted by a vampire slayer, he's having horrible nightmares, and he can't contact his Uncle Otis. Can Vlad make it through another year?

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

Anton Chekhov: Five Great Short Stories

Anton Chekhov: Five Great Short Stories is by Anton Chekhov. Five of the Russian playwright and writer's best short stories. These stories are decisive examples of the study of character, the development of the human personality, and the masterful creation of setting. These stories are intense and somewhat depressing, but that is the best part of Russian literature. A must read for the well read.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

Vanished: True Stories of the Missing

Vanished: True Stories of the Missing is by Marc Tyler Nobleman. This short little volume contains true stories of missing people of all ages. Some have happy endings and some don't, but all are entertaining. A great introduction to nonfiction for those reluctant to take the plunge.

Ratings: 4th grade - 7 out of 10.

A Season in Hell & the Drunken Boat

A Season in Hell & the Drunken Boat are by Arthur Rimbaud. Two classic works of poetry. He stopped writing at nineteen and lived a controversial life; yet Rimbaud's poetry continues to influence poets today. A Season in Hell is filled with haunting poetry and is truly Rimbaud's masterpiece. A must read for poetry lovers.

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

The Old Willis Place

The Old Willis Place is by Mary Downing Hahn. Lissa and her father take over as caretakers for the old Willis Place which everyone tells them is haunted. Lissa's father says "there's no such thing as ghosts", yet Lissa can't shake the feeling that there is someone, or something, alive in the old house. Then she meets Diana and Georgie, two siblings, who live in the woods behind the house. Lissa begins to wonder if they are all they seem. Can she discover their secret? Can she help them escape from old Miss Willis? Another exciting ghost story from Hahn.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Pictures of Hollis Woods

Pictures of Hollis Woods is by Patricia Reilly Giff. Hollis was found in the woods when she was a baby. She has been shuffled from foster home to foster home ever since. She prides herself on being tough and a loner. She even runs away from the one family who really wants her. When she is placed with an elderly artist she finds a place she wants to stay. But Josie is forgetful, if Social Services finds out they won't let her stay. She's determined to stay with Josie even if it means they have to run away together. A must read book! A tender and poignant story exploring the meaning of family and forgiveness.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Black Duck

Black Duck is by Janet Taylor Lisle. Ruben and Jeddy have been friends all their lives, but that all changes the night they find a dead body on the beach. Set during Prohibition in New England, this is the story of two friends caught up in bootlegging, gangs, and smuggling. Based on real accounts of the famous rum-running boat the Black Duck, this is a powerful tale of loyalty, betrayal, and friendship. An excellent example of historical fiction!

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Urchin and the Heartstone

Urchin and the Heartstone is by M.I. McAllister. The second in The Chronicles of Mistmantle series. When a delegation arrives from the island of Whitewings asking for Urchin's help he is tempted to go - as soon as Crispin is crowned king. Then he finds himself kidnapped and taken to Whitewings against his will. Once there he discovers he must save the island to save himself. As Crispin seeks to rescue Urchin, he discovers the Heartstone is missing and he can't be crowned without it. An excellent sequel to the first book. Fans of the Redwall series will love this one as well.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Fire Thief

The Fire Thief is by Terry Deary The first book in a new series by the author. This is the story of Prometheus, who after being released by Hercules, must find a human hero or be destroyed by Zeus. He is given wings with which he flies a million years into the future - 1858 to be specific - where he meets up with a young thief named Jim. Together they find themselves involved in a dangerous adventure. A fascinating blend of mythology and adventure. Lovers of the Percy Jackson series might enjoy this one as well.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Dead to the World

Dead to the World is by Charlaine Harris. The fourth book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series. Poor Sookie never gets a break. After her break up with Bill, Sookie is looking forward to a little peace and quiet. Hah! On the way home from work she notices a naked man on the side of the road. The poor fellow doesn't remember who he is or anything else about himself. But Sookie recognizes him; it's Eric the vampire. She feels sorry for him and takes him home then everything goes nuts. She must help the vampires defeat a coven of witches to restore Eric's memory and if that isn't enough her brother Jason has gone missing. Sookie is afraid his disappearance might have something to do with Eric being at her house. Another humorous and action packed entry in this popular series.

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

Our Town

Our Town is by Thornton Wilder. The classic play depicting small town life, and death, in a rural New Hampshire town. The play concentrates on the life of two families who live next door to each other: the Gibb's and the Webb's. The play looks at their life over a period of years spanning the early part of the 20th century. A fabulous play with a powerful message. An excellent introduction to reading drama.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

A Matter of Trust

A Matter of Trust is by Anne Schraff. The second book in the Bluford High series. Darcy and Brisana were once best friends; but things changed in high school. Brisana didn't approve of Darcy's choice of friends and abandons her. Now the former friends compete for the affections of the same boy. Does Darcy really have anything to fear or is her jealousy creating a problem that doesn't really exist? A realistic look at inner city high school life.

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

Robinson Jeffers: Selected Poems

Robinson Jeffers: Selected Poems is by Robinson Jeffers. A small booklet of some of Jeffers' most famous and moving poetry. A controversial poet, but nevertheless a national treasure. Tor House, Roan Stallion, Carmel Point, and Una are particularly moving.

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

Letters from the Inside

Letters from the Inside is by John Marsden. Mandy decides to answer an ad in a magazine that asks for a pen pal. She is surprised when she gets a letter from Tracey. As their friendship grows Mandy begins to suspect that Tracey isn't being completely honest with her. Their story is told from the letters they write to one another. As the tale progresses we discover the truth of Tracey and learn about the power of friendship. The ending is a complete surprise and leaves the reader with a host of unanswered questions. A powerful and stunning read. We highly recommend this book!

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


Mummy is by Caroline B. Cooney. Emlyn has always wanted to be "bad". Now she has her chance! Her classmates plan to steal the mummy of ancient Egyptian princess from the local museum for Mischief Night. They ask for Emlyn's help because she is intelligent and daring. She plans it out carefully, manages to pull off the robbery, and then everything falls apart. When her friends decide to cut open the mummy to steal the gold jewelry inside, Emlyn knows she must save Amaral-Re from such a fate. Can she do this without getting arrested for the robbery herself? An interesting take on the consequences of doing the wrong thing and the challenges involved in making it right.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Storyteller's Daughter: A Retelling of the Arabian Nights

The Storyteller's Daughter: A Retelling of the Arabian Nights is by Cameron Dokey. We've all heard the classic tale of Shahrazad; well now we get to hear it from her point of view. The famous storyteller tells her life's story from the beginning to the ever popular "happily ever after" ending. Dokey does a fantastic job of making this old classic come alive again. A fantastic read.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Flower Drum Song

The Flower Drum Song is by C.Y. Lee. Originally published in 1957, this book was one of the first Chinese American novels. It is the story of Old Master Wang and his two sons. Wang San, the youngest, just wants to be American. Want Ta, the oldest, is caught between two worlds. As he searches for himself and his place in this new world, he becomes involved with various types of women. From a wild playgirl, to a homely seamstress, to a young girl newly arrived from China Wang Ta tries everything to discover who he is. A poignant, comic, and bittersweet (if politically incorrect) tale of American assimilation. Very different from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical it inspired. A fantastic read!

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

Attack From Atlantis

Attack From Atlantis is by Lester Del Rey. Don Miller is thrilled that his uncle allows him to work on his new experimental submarine even though he is a teenager. On its maiden voyage the Triton attempts to reach a depth never before reached and discovers Atlantis - or Atlantis discovers them. Captured by Atlanteans Don must help the crew of the Triton escape and save Atlantis at the same time. The science is a little outdated, but the story is still exciting.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

A Vow of Silence

A Vow of Silence is by Veronica Black. The first of the Sister Joan Mysteries. When Sister Joan is transferred to a lonely Cornwall convent she discovers the sisters there are keeping secrets. Secrets that include one missing novice, one dead nun, and some very different beliefs. She begins to notice even more departures from normal convent routine and begins to suspect something terrible may be going on in Cornwall.

Ratings: 11th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake

Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake is by Jennifer Allison. The second in the Gilda Joyce series. Gilda scores a scholarship to an exclusive Catholic girl's school called Our Lady of Sorrows. Once there she discovers the school may be haunted by the ghost of a drowned girl. Can Gilda discover the truth behind Dolores Lambert's death? Solving this mystery may put her in more danger than she ever imagined. Gilda continues to be as charming and quirky as ever.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Golden Thread

The Golden Thread is by Norman MacLeod. A young prince must prove himself on a hunt through a dark and dangerous wood. His father admonishes him to never let go of the golden thread and he will always find his way home. Will he listen to his father? What happens when he doesn't? A charming Christian allegory written in 1861 based loosely on the story of the Prodigal Son. Another of the Lamplighter Rare Collector Series.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Goodbye, Amanda the Good

Goodbye, Amanda the Good is by Susan Shreve. Amanda has just started middle school. She feels she is changing and doesn't know herself anymore. She doesn't want to be the smart girl she has always been, but doesn't know who she does want to be. She begins to drift toward a group of "bad" kids and suddenly finds herself doing things she has never done before: smoking, skipping school, even shoplifting. Is "The Club" the right fit for Amanda? Who does she really want to be? A nice little book about coming of age and choices.

Ratings: 6th grade - 7 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity).

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Movie Adaptation

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Movie Adaptation is by James Ponti. King Sharaman adopts a street urchin named Dastan. Little did he know that his adopted son would be the driving force behind saving his kingdom from his brother, and royal advisor, Nizam. A good example of why movies, and their adaptations, are worse than real books. I certainly hope the movie is better than the adaptation.

Ratings: 5th grade - 3 out of 10.

America's Most Haunted: True Scary Places

America's Most Haunted: True Scary Places is by Allan Zullo. Another of Zullo's interesting books that will introduce young readers to nonfiction. This small volume describes ten of America's most haunted places from Area 51 to the Hannah House in Indiana. This book will hold reader's interest and hopefully encourage them to do some research on their own.

Ratings: 5th grade - 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gregor and the Marks of Secret

Gregor and the Marks of Secret is by Suzanne Collins. This is the fourth book in the Underland Chronicles. The mice are disappearing from the Underland. When a dying mouse brings Luxa her crown as a cry for help she sets out with Gregor, Boots, Ripred, and several others to discover what is happening to the mice. When they discover the truth it is more sinister than they could ever have imagined and points the way to the final prophecy Gregor must fulfill. This series gets better as it goes on. Young Gregor must face evil in the world and decide how to fight it and remain the person he wants to be.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Seer of Shadows

The Seer of Shadows is by Avi. Set in the late 1800s in New York City, Horace has been apprenticed to a photographer. He discovers that when he takes pictures he brings back ghosts. Horace and Pegg, a black servant girl, must learn the truth about Eleanora's (a young society girl) death and how to send her back where she belongs when she returns seeking revenge.

Ratings: 5th grade - 8 out of 10.

Raven's Gate

Raven's Gate is by Anthony Horowitz. The first book in the new Gatekeepers series. Much better than the Alex Rider books, this series follows five young people who must save the world from evil. Fourteen-year-old Matt is arrested after he breaks into a warehouse to steal CDs. He is sent to the home of a creepy old lady in a country village. He begins to suspect witchcraft when he sees strange things going on in the woods and discovers no matter which way he travels he can't leave the house. A first class creepy horror tale filled with action and suspense.

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

The Host Rides Out

The Host Rides Out is by Celia Rees. The final chapter in the Supernaturals series. Davey risks his own life to help the ghosts rid themselves of the Judge forever so that they can all cross over. If he succeeds in this can he escape the clutches of the Lady who has returned to claim him forever. A fine ending to a fascinating trilogy.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.


Uglies is by Scott Westerfeld. The first book in the new Uglies trilogy. This tale is set in a world where at age 16 everyone receives an operation to become "pretty". Tally is almost 16, she can't wait to get away from the uglies and move to New Pretty Town where she can party all the time. Her best friend, Shay, doesn't want to be pretty and when she runs away to a settlement called Smoke Tally finds herself confronted with a dilemma. Special Circumstances tells her she can remain ugly forever or follow Shay and report back on the location of Smoke. The choice Tally makes changes her life forever.

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

Black Beauty

Black Beauty is by Anna Sewell. The childhood classic tale of a horse's life from the horse's point of view. A must read for all animal lovers. Set in Victorian London we watch Beauty move from owner to owner through the ups and downs of a horse's existence. Beauty's take on the human world is enlightening.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Essential Rumi

The Essential Rumi is by Jelaluddin Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks). Barks does a great job of translating this 13th-century mystic's words into English verse that maintains the magic, delicacy, and simplicity of the original. Rumi's Persian heritage is discussed and explained as well. His poetry is about love, death, pleasure, human weakness, longing; in short, life. Rumi's work is full of passion, joy, and humor. All fans of poetry should not miss this delightful work.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content).

Revenge of the Witch

Revenge of the Witch is by Joseph Delaney. The first book in The Last Apprentice series. Old Gregory has been the Spook for years. He has traveled throughout the county ridding the land of evil. He's tried to find an apprentice, 29 times he's tried. Now it's Thomas Ward's turn. A seventh son of a seventh son, he is the last hope for Gregory to find someone to replace him. Thomas must learn about boggarts, ghasts, ghosts, and witches. One witch in particular wants him dead. Can he fight her alone? Will he survive and remain the last apprentice? A charming new series Darren Shan fans will enjoy.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.


Betrayals is by Lili St. Crow. The second book in the Strange Angels series. Dru's mother was killed when she was a child. She killed her father when he turned into a zombie. She has now discovered she's part vampire and the full bloods want her dead. Hidden away in a school for kids like her, Dru and her best friend (who's a werwulf), find that a traitor inside the school wants to help the vampires kill her. She doesn't know who to trust or where to run. Will she survive? Why do the vampires want her dead and who is the traitor? Another great book in a very strange, yet enjoyable and action packed, series. Dru, a cross between Bella (Twilight) and Sarah Conner (Terminator), is a fascinating heroine.

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

The Summer King

The Summer King is by O.R. Melling. The sequel to The Hunter's Moon and book two in the Chronicles of Faerie. On the anniversary of her twin sister's death, Laurel returns to Ireland to find answers. What happened to Honor? Was it really her fault for not being with her sister on that fateful day? Then a fairy appears and tells her it's not too late to save Honor, but to do so Laurel must rescue the missing Summer King to protect both the human world and Faerie. Laurel embarks on an adventure unlike anything she has ever thought possible. Can she find the Summer King? Can she save Honor? Can she save herself? A fabulous book, better than the first volume. Can't wait to read the third installment. Reading these books makes you want to catch the next plane to the Emerald Isle and join in the fun.

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


Heidi is by Johanna Spyri. The classic tale of a young orphaned child given to her hermit grandfather who lives in the Swiss Alps. She is then taken away from him to be the companion for a young crippled girl. All Heidi wants is to get back to her grandfather on the Alm. Her love for Klara and her friend the goat herd Peter changes both their lives. A truly sweet and classic must read.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Black Unicorn

Black Unicorn is by Tanith Lee. The first book in an interesting series. Tanaquil is a young girl whose sorceress mother, Jaive, is disappointed in her because she has no magical abilities. All she is able to do is fiddle with machinery and fix anything that breaks. When a peeve digs up a unicorn skeleton, Tanaquil puts it together. When it comes to life she knows it has come for her. It needs her, but for what? Tanaquil and the peeve set out on a journey of self discovery to aid a mythical creature and what they find is amazing. This story starts slowly, but improves as you read it. It is descriptive, magical, and humorous.

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


Burned is by P.C. & Kristin Cast. This is the seventh book in the House of Night series. Zoey's soul has shattered and Stark must face his own death to help restore her soul so she can return and save the world from Neferet and Kalona. Aphrodite is now the prophetess of Nyx, whether she wants to be or not, and must aid Stark. Stevie Rae also has a part to play, but she is struggling with the rogue Red Fledglings, her boyfriend Dallas, and her imprint with Rephaim the Raven Mocker. Three girls in three very dangerous situations, can any of them work through them? This series gets better and more exciting with every book.

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

Crocodile Tears

Crocodile Tears is by Anthony Horowitz. The eighth installment in the Alex Rider series. Alex is "persuaded" by MI6 to check out the head of a company specializing in genetically engineered plants. But nothing is ever simple, Alex is kidnapped by a famous philanthropist and taken to Africa. Now he must escape hungry crocs and stop a humanitarian disaster. This book is every bit as action packed as the others in the series. Alex's adventures and magnificent escapes are becoming less believable with each new book however. While some may find these stories still exciting others may find this series nearing the end of believability.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.