Sunday, November 28, 2010

City of Bones

City of Bones is by Cassandra Clare. The first book in The Mortal Instruments series. Fifteen-year-old Clary heads out to a club with her friend Simon but she doesn't expect to witness a murder committed by three teenagers no one else can see. The murderers explain they are Shadowhunters, a secret sect of warriors that hunt down demons. When Clary's mother disappears and Clary is almost killed by a demon she finds herself needing the Shadowhunters' help to find her mother. But do they need Clary as well? 

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

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is by Suzanne Collins. Set in what's left of North America in a nation called Panem, the Capitol is a harsh government that keeps outlying districts in control by forcing each district to send two teens to participate in "The Hunger Games", where the "tributes" fight to the death on live television. Sixteen-year-old Katniss steps forward to take her sister's place in the games and finds herself fighting for her life. A thought provoking and action packed series. Boys and girls alike will devour this trilogy. Adults can't help thinking of Orwell, Rand, or Wells as they read these books.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10 - V (violence) - AC (some mature thematic content).  


Thirsty is by M.T. Anderson. Chris discovers he is turning into a vampire. He is approached by Chet, a supposed member of the Forces of Light, who promises to cure him of his vampirism and make him human again if he will just do a "little favor" for the forces of good. Can Chet be trusted? Is he the good guy or the bad guy? Exactly what will Chris do to remain a human? A strange and intense story boys will enjoy.

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

The World Above

The World Above is by Cameron Dokey. An imaginative re-telling of Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack is not an only child, he has a twin sister Gen. Jack and his family come from the world above. His father, the Duke Roland, was murdered and his kingdom taken over. His wife escaped to the world below where Gen and Jack were born. Now that Jack has traded the cow for some magic beans, he and Gen are going home to reclaim their inheritance. Another stellar installment in the Once Upon a Time series.

Ratings - 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Open Season

Open Season is by C.J. Box. The first of the Joe Pickett novels. Joe Pickett is a low-paid over-worked Wyoming game warden with a wife and two daughters. When a local hunter staggers into his yard and dies, Joe finds himself involved in a mystery that endangers the life of the family he loves. Box creates a flawed but lovable hero we all can relate to. His depiction of Joe's young daughter Sheridan is extraordinarily well done. A mystery series all males will love. 

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

The Fire Thief Fights Back

The Fire Thief Fights Back is by Terry Deary. The final installment in the Fire Thief Trilogy finds Prometheus still looking for his hero. Back in Eden City he must join with Zeus against the Avenger and a whole plethora of Greek monsters to save the town. Will Prometheus find his hero and return to ancient Greece? A surprising conclusion to a fun and humorous trilogy.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society is by Trenton Lee Stewart. The opening book in a charming new series. When an add appears in a local newspaper asking gifted children to take a series of tests, four very special children find themselves embroiled in the adventure of their lives. They become part of the Mysterious Benedict Society and must go undercover in an institute for gifted children that may be involved in more than education. A great opening to a promising new series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies is by William Golding. The classic tale of a group of young boys who when marooned on an island degenerate into anarchy. A must read tale that is as tragic and provocative as it is beautifully written. All of us see parts of ourselves in Ralph, Jack, Piggy, and Roger. What are we really when the facade of civilization is scraped away? Golding plumbs the heights and horrifying depths of human nature.

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

The Curse of the Pharaohs

The Curse of the Pharaohs is by Elizabeth Peters. The second book in the Amelia Peabody Mystery series. Amelia and her husband Radcliffe return to Egypt to uncover a new tomb. The previous archaeologist is dead and his wife wants to continue the excavation despite the threat of the mummy's curse. Are the deaths the result of a real curse? Can Amelia solve the mysterious deaths before Radcliffe is targeted as the next victim?  A fantastic series! The witty humor and suspense are totally enjoyable. Agatha Christie fans will love Amelia.

Ratings: 8th grade - 10 out of 10.

The Book of Time

The Book of Time is by Guillaume Prevost. Sam's father has been missing for ten days, he's been gone before but never for this long. When Sam goes to his father's bookstore to search for clues he stumbles on a statute, a coin, and an old book. When he places the coin in a slot on the statue he finds himself transported through time. As he fights to get back home, he begins to realize that his father is also lost somewhere in time. Can he find him and get them both home? A fascinating new series.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Goodbye, Vietnam

Goodbye, Vietnam is by Gloria Whelan. Mai and her family attempt to flee Vietnam when her grandmother is targeted by the Communist government. A touching look at the plight of the Vietnamese boat people as they attempt to flee Vietnam for freedom and safety. A charming tale of sacrifice and family.

Ratings: 5th grade - 8 out of 10.

Deep Down Popular

Deep Down Popular is by Phoebe Stone. Conrad Parker Smith is the most popular boy in the entire 6th grade. Jessie Lou has had a crush on him for years, but she is nothing but a typical Southern tomboy. When Conrad hurts his leg and finds himself in a brace, he can't keep up with his old crowd. When the teacher asks Jessie Lou to help Conrad get home after school she finally has a chance to get close to her idol. Can Jessie Lou actually be friends with such a "deep down popular" boy?

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush is by Becca Fitzpatrick. Nora and Patch are thrown together as lab partners. She doesn't like her attraction to him and fights it, until curiosity gets the better of her. But curiosity killed the cat and could very well kill Nora. She is being stalked, attempts are made on her life and that of her friend. Is Patch to blame? Is he even human? Could he possibly be a fallen angel? Is he trying to kill her or protect her?

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

Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the U.S.S. Indianapolis

Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the U.S.S. Indianapolis is by Pete Nelson. If you've every watched Jaws you've heard of the Indianapolis, it's one of the most riveting scenes in the movie. Here is the true story which is every bit as riveting. The story begins with the sinking of the Indianapolis, continues through the court martial of its Captain, and the search for justice for Captain McVay and the other survivors. A search spear-headed by an 11-year-old boy. A fantastic tale of courage and the power of an individual to change things. We highly recommend this book!

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Woman in the Wall

The Woman in the Wall is by Patrice Kindl. Anna is very shy and quite the little carpenter. At seven, terrified at the prospect of attending school, she builds her own world inside the walls of the family's Victorian house. As time goes by, everyone in her family forgets she ever existed, until one day a letter appears in the wall and Anna's life changes forever. An unrealistic, yet entertaining, story. Many of Kindl's books are strange and this one is no exception.

Ratings: 6th grade - 7 out of 10.