Sunday, August 28, 2011


Beastly is by Alex Flinn. A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in New York City. Kyle is a spoiled rich kid who is turned into a beast by a witch for his terrible behavior towards others. Now he must find a girl to fall in love with him or he remains a beast forever. His rich news anchor father abandons him with a maid and a blind tutor and leaves him to cope as best he can. Then he meets Lindy, a girl with a not-so-nice father of her own. Is she the one to save him? Can he save her first? Teenage girls will enjoy this book.

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

The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man is by Francesca Lia Block. Typical Block fare. If you are a fan you will love this book. Laurel lives in California with her mother. Her father has recently died of cancer. Laurel uses Tarot Cards and a relationship with a mysterious man named Jack to help her deal with a terrible family secret. You either love Block's confusing mix of magical realism and teen angst or you don't. This book contains the typical assortment of drugs, drinking, teenage partying, and sex one would expect for a book set in Laurel Canyon, California.

Ratings: 10th grade - 5 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (non graphic sexual references).

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Widow of Jerusalem

The Widow of Jerusalem is by Alan Gordon. The fourth book in the Fools' Guild Mystery series. As Theo and his wife flee the Papal army which has just run all the fools from their Guildhall, he tells Claudia the story of his time in the Holy Land with Richard the Lionhearted. It is 1191 and the Third Crusade is well underway and Theo finds himself in Tyre with the most beautiful woman in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and a dwarf named Scarlet. Another enchanting piece of historical fiction. Lovers of the Middle Ages and the Crusades will thoroughly enjoy this tale, although it is not as enchanting as the previous three books.

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

Things Not Seen

Things Not Seen is by Andrew Clements. When fifteen-year-old Bobby wakes up and discovers he is invisible, his whole life is thrown into turmoil. He doesn't know how to become visible again, his parents may face jail because he's gone "missing", and he struggles with a budding relationship with a blind girl he met at the library. A wonderful tale! It is touching and funny and a lot of good science fiction fun.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chasing Amanda

Chasing Amanda is by Melissa Foster. Molly is clairvoyant and nine years ago a young girl was kidnapped and killed when Molly ignored her visions. The aftermath of guilt almost cost her her marriage and her sanity. Now as everything seems to be improving, another child has been kidnapped and again Molly is having visions. Now Molly must risk everything to save her. This is a quite convoluted tale and the threads of the story are occasionally hard to follow, but the terror experienced by both Tracey and Molly is vividly portrayed.

Ratings: Adult - 6 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (Violence) - AC (mature thematic content).

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner is by James Dashner. The first book in The Maze Runner series. When Thomas awakes he finds himself in the Glade with no memory of who he was or how he got there. The other Gladers arrived in the same fashion. They have been there for two years trying to escape the Maze inhabited by the Grievers. However the next day when a girl arrives and announces that everything is about to change, Thomas finds himself fighting for survival with the rest of the Gladers - and he just might be the key to saving them all. An amazingly creepy piece of dystopian fiction that rivals the Hunger Games series.

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Silver Blade

The Silver Blade is by Sally Gardner. The sequel to Gardner's The Red Necklace. Set in the midst of the French Revolution, Yann and his friends continue to help aristocrats escape the terror of the guillotine. In England, Sido's guardians try to discourage her love for Yann because of his gypsy heritage. But when Sido is kidnapped by the evil Count Kalliovski, only Yann can save her and help save all of France. A young adult version of The Scarlet Pimpernel with some supernatural aspects thrown in for good measure.

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

I So Don't Do Mysteries

I So Don't Do Mysteries is by Barrie Summy. The first book in the I So Don't Series. Sherry's father is getting remarried to one of her teachers. If that isn't bad enough, her dead mother has just returned as a ghost and tells Sherry she needs her help to solve a mystery so she won't flunk out of the Academy of Spirits in the afterlife. Instead of being a normal 7th grader and spending the summer with friends and Josh, she finds herself in San Diego with her ghostly mother and her dead grandfather (who has come back as a bird) trying to solve an animal mystery at the San Diego zoo.

Ratings: 6th grade - 6 out of 10.

Out of the Dust

Out of the Dust is by Karen Hesse. Set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930's, this novel is written in free verse poetry. Billie Jo and her family struggle to survive the dust and depression of the "dirty 30's". A terrible accident scars Billie Jo forever and causes the death of her mother and baby brother. Now she and her father must struggle to survive, remain a family, and find peace in the bleak landscape of Oklahoma and within themselves. A moving tale of survival and forgiveness. A classic young adult read!

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Heir of Mistmantle

The Heir of Mistmantle is by M.I. Mcallister. The third book in The Chronicles of Mistmantle series. The King and Queen of Mistmantle have just had a baby girl named Catkin. As the population rejoices Catkin disappears from her cradle. Then a drought strikes, a plague starts, and animals start to see Husk, who is supposed to be dead. Urchin and his friends struggle to save Mistmantle from itself and find the missing heir. Juniper must also face a terrible truth about himself.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

The Glass Castle: A Memoir is by Jeannette Walls. A poignant look at one woman's sad and difficult childhood. Ms. Walls, who is a regular contributor for, writes about her very difficult childhood with her alcoholic father and extremely eccentric mother with honesty and a complete lack of bitterness that is amazing under the circumstances. She and her siblings survived frequent moves, poverty, unsafe living conditions, and near starvation with grace and an amazingly optimistic view of life in general and her family in particular. A very emotional, yet excellent read.

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

Poetry for Young People: William Wordsworth

Poetry for Young People: William Wordsworth is edited by Alan Liu. A beautiful collection of Wordsworth's poetry. A wonderful way to introduce young people to this amazing poet.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.  

Poetry for Young People: William Carlos Williams

Poetry for Young People: William Carlos Williams is edited by Christopher MacGowan. A magnificent collection of Williams's work. A wonderful way to introduce young people to one of America's greatest poets.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Poetry for Young People: Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Poetry for Young People: Alfred, Lord Tennyson is edited by John Maynard. A magnificent collection of Tennyson's work. A wonderful way to introduce young people to this amazing poet.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ender's Game

Ender's Game is by Orson Scott Card. The first book in the Ender series. This book is classic science fiction and a must read for all ages. A Reader's Corner highly recommended read. Earth fought off the alien "buggers" when they attacked before, but now they're back and the existence of humanity rests on the next war. The military has recruited a brilliant soldier who might be able to command the battle and save Earth. Who is this savior of mankind? Ender Wiggins: he's brilliant, cunning, ruthless, and six-years-old. Can Colonel Graff turn a child into a warrior? And at what cost? A brilliantly well-written and chillingly thought-provoking read. A magnificent classic.

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

Monday, August 1, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is by Harper Lee. A classic of American literature and a must read for all readers. Set in a small southern Alabama town, this tale centers around two young children. A brother and sister, Jem and Scout, and their father Atticus, the town lawyer. When their father defends a Negro man accused of raping a white woman, Jem and Scout must face the bigotry and hatred of a community. A compassionate and moving tale of growing up in the deep south. The Finch children learn that there is kindness and love as well as hatred and cruelty in their town and that through it all the important thing is doing what is right.

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

Prom & Prejudice

Prom & Prejudice is by Elizabeth Eulberg. A charming retelling of the Austen classic. Set in a prestigious private school where the prom is everything. Lizzie goes to Longbourn Academy on a scholarship, all she wants is to play the piano. Her best friend Jane is interested only in Charles Bingley. Lizzie is happy for her friend until Charles's friend Will Darcy shows up to drive her crazy with his pompous attitude. But are Will and Lizzie meant to be together? Will Lizzie's pride and Will's prejudice keep them apart? Will they ever make it to prom? A great introduction to the original for younger girls.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.