Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dark Fire

Dark Fire is by Chris D'Lacey. The fifth book in the Last Dragon Chronicles. David Rain has returned and so have the dragons. Can David and his friends manage to free the dragons and defeat the Ix before the evil race manages to create a darkling? It's a race against time and the lives of everyone David loves, as well as the planet itself hangs in the balance. This book has much more action than the previous installments. The ending leaves you wondering if there will be a book six.

Ratings: 7th grade - 6 out of 10.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lion in the Valley

Lion in the Valley is by Elizabeth Peters. The fourth book in the Amelia Peabody Mystery series. It's the 1895-96 season and Amelia, Emerson, and 8-year-old Ramses return to Egypt to excavate the pyramids at Dahshoor. The "Master Criminal" has other plans for them though. A moonlight attempted abduction of Ramses, a murdered man, and an endangered young woman lead Amelia to the decision that it is time to deliver Sethos to justice - and who better to take him on than Amelia Peabody Emerson. Another stellar novel in the fantastic series. Ramses is delightful, Emerson's temper is tempered by his love for his wife and son, and Amelia's constant desire to meddle in mysterious activities is as appealing as ever. Lovers of Agatha Christie and Egypt alike will love these novels. 

Ratings: 8th grade - 10 out of 10. 

The Forgotten Door

The Forgotten Door is by Alexander Key. Jon has lost his memory. He remembers watching the stars with his parents and then falling through a door. A door that leads to Earth. Injured in his fall he finds himself in need of help. He meets a kindly family who help him and are amazed by his strange powers. Now he is hunted by fortune seekers and government agents who want to use him for their own ends. Will he be able to protect his friends and still get home? A cute book.

Ratings: 5th grade - 6 out of 10.

The Gardener

The Gardener is by S.A. Bodeen. When Mason goes to visit his mom at the nursing home where she works he never expects to wake a beautiful young girl from a coma and run away with her. But here he is on the run with a girl who doesn't need food or water and who is being hunted by the Gardener, a genius who runs a greenhouse that grows people instead of plants. A very interesting trip into science fiction, definitely worth a read.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.  

Skeleton Creek

Skeleton Creek is by Patrick Carman. The opening book in the Skeleton Creek series. This unique series is part journal and part video. The book includes a website where you can go, key in a password from the book and watch videos supposedly made by a character in the book, Sarah. Ryan is injured when he and Sarah go to an old mining rig and find one of the machines is haunted. Their parents have forbidden them to see each other, but they are determined to solve the mystery of Skeleton Creek.

Ratings: 5th grade - 8 out of 10.


Invincible is by Sherrilyn Kenyon. The second installment in The Chronicles of Nick. Nick managed to survive an attack by zombies, but his day isn't getting any better. His boss has fangs, his mother's new employers are bears, he's being trained in the use of his powers by Death, his principal thinks he's a thief, and his new football coach wants to recruit him as one - oh, and he's having visions of his own death. Little does Nick know that the future of the world hinges on whether he can be recruited by good or evil - no pressure for a 14-year-old boy. Dark Hunter fans can rejoice at having books that can now be shared with younger readers. These books are more enjoyable for those who have read the adult novels; but they are equally fun for young readers who have not.

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

America At War: Civil War Ten Greatest Battles

America At War: Civil War Ten Greatest Battles is by John Perritano. An very understandable look at the ten greatest battles of the Civil War. The book is complete with maps, pictures, and illustrations. Excellent book.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Violet Eyes: A Retelling of the Princess and the Pea

Violet Eyes: A Retelling of the Princess and the Pea is by Debbie Viguie. Another installment in the fabulous Once Upon a Time series.Violet grew up as a farmer's daughter. One day Prince Richard falls off his horse and hits his head near their farm. As they nurse the Prince back to health, Violet discovers she is in love. But Richard can only marry a princess and his parents have set up a contest to find him a wife. As she mourns her loss, her dying mother tells her that she isn't their daughter, but is herself a princess. Violet heads for the castle to enter the contest and win her prince, but can she pass the tests? An absolutely wonderful retelling of an old fairy tale. This series is a must read for young girls.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Muhammad Ali: King of the Ring

Muhammad Ali: King of the Ring is by Stephen Timblin. A very good biography of the great boxer. Filled with wonderful pictures. A great way to interest young readers in nonfiction.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Mummy Case

The Mummy Case is by Elizabeth Peters. The third book in the Amelia Peabody Mystery series. Amelia and Emerson are back in Egypt, this time with their young son, Ramses. Denied permission to dig at Dahshoor, they are resigned to excavating a mound of junk in the middle of nowhere. Nothing of interest, until an antiquities dealer is murdered and a mummy case is stolen. Amelia is now in full mystery solving mode. Ramses steals the show in this novel. He is wonderfully precocious and absolutely entertaining. Another amazing mystery in a suspenseful, yet funny series. A must read series for all Agatha Christie lovers.

Ratings: 8th grade - 10 out of 10.

I'm Nobody! Who Are You?

I'm Nobody! Who Are You? is by Emily Dickinson. A collection of poems by Dickinson. A magnificent introduction to her work. A wonderful book of poetry.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Attack on Pearl Harbor

The Attack on Pearl Harbor is by Allison Lassieur. An interactive story about the attack on Pearl Harbor. You can look at the event from the view of a Japanese pilot, an American sailor, or a Navy nurse. A cute interactive history story. An easy read for younger readers.

Ratings: 5th grade - 6 out of 10.

The Angel of Death

The Angel of Death is by Alane Ferguson. The second book in the Forensic Mystery series. Cameryn is still struggling with the new information she has learned about her long absent mother who now wants to meet her. Has everything she has believed about her family all these years been a lie? Her mother seems to indicate that it has. Now she discovers her father, the coroner for whom she works as an assistant, has a girlfriend. Then, if all this isn't enough, the most popular boy in school discovers their English teacher dead - in particularly gruesome and unusual circumstances. Can she solve her personal problems and find the killer? Will her new relationship with Kyle work out?

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

Chasing Lincoln's Killer

Chasing Lincoln's Killer is by James L. Swanson. A wonderfully detailed book about Lincoln's assassination and the manhunt that followed. A great book on this subject and on this time period. The book is loaded with actual pictures. A must read book for Lincoln or Civil War lovers.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Playing with Fire

Playing with Fire is by Emily Blake. The first book in the Little Secrets series. Think Clique meets Mean Girls. This series focuses on two cousins and their extremely rich and nasty family. When Alison's mother is arrested for fraud (having been turned in by her mother) she believes she can turn to her cousin Kelley for support. Kelley uses the opportunity to steal Alison's boyfriend and leave her stranded in the middle of her time of crisis. Then there's Zoey who used to be Alison's friend and now only wants revenge. Let the drama and nastiness begin. Better than the Clique series, but with kids who are just as spoiled and in desperate need of parents.

Ratings: 9th grade - 4 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

Promises to the Dead

Promises to the Dead is by Mary Downing Hahn. A departure from Hahn's creepy fantasy this is purely historical fiction. Set at the beginning of the Civil War, Jesse lives in Maryland, a state that has mixed loyalties. While hunting turtle in the swamp near his uncle's house, Jesse finds a pregnant runaway slave and her son. Lydia is dying and she makes Jesse promise to take her young son to his white aunt. Jesse and Perry must travel across Maryland and eventually into Virginia. They must face slave hunters and both Union and Confederate soldiers to find a safe haven for Perry. A very good depiction of life and thought at the beginning of the Civil War.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

When It Happens

When It Happens is by Susane Colasanti. Sara and Tobey are both seniors. They have never really talked, but Tobey has had a crush on Sara for years. He is not sure she would even give him the time of day. She is smart and dedicated, he is a musician and a slacker. Sara's goal is to get into her favorite college and find true love. Tobey wants to win the Battle of the Bands. This book alternates between Tobey and Sara's point of view. It is a wonderfully funny and charming tale. This book does contain some profanity and mature thematic content.

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

Arch Enemy

Arch Enemy is by Frank Beddor. The final installment in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy. Alyss and Redd have both lost their imaginative powers and Arch has taken over the throne of Wonderland. Hatter and Molly are trapped on Earth and the Heart Crystal is depleted. Who is holding all the cards and who will win the battle for Wonderland? A great finish to a very good series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.


Incarceron is by Catherine Fisher. Finn can't remember anything about his past before he woke up in Incarceron, a living prison. He has flashes of memory that seem to indicate he once lived in the outside world, but no one has ever escaped the prison - at least except for the legendary Sapphique, and no one has entered in hundreds of years. Then he finds a crystal key that lets him connect with Claudia, who is not only on the outside but is the Warden's daughter. Claudia, Finn, and their friends find themselves caught up in political intrigue and murder. Is Finn the missing prince whom Claudia was originally to marry? Can she help him escape from Incarceron? Is there an escape from Incarceron? A great book! The next one should be equally excellent.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Tales of Deltora

Tales of Deltora is by Emily Rodda. For fans of the Deltora Quest series, this book is a companion volume. It contains stories and legends from the time before the Quest documented in the original eight installments. If you liked the series, you will find this book entertaining.

Ratings: 5th grade - 5 out of 10.

Usborne Illustrated Guide to Norse Myths & Legends

Usborne Illustrated Guide to Norse Myths & Legends is by Cheryl Evans and Anne Millard. Similar to the companion book on Greek mythology, this is a great way to introduce Norse mythology and culture to young readers. Illustrations and maps are beautiful and the book covers Norse culture and history as well.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Usborne Introduction to the Second World War

The Usborne Introduction to the Second World War is by Paul Dowswell. A magnificent introduction to the causes, battles, weapons, politics, effects, and really all aspects of WWII. The pictures are astounding and the book contains web links students can use to locate further information. A Reader's Corner highly recommended book.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Susan Butcher and the Iditarod Trail

Susan Butcher and the Iditarod Trail is by Ellen M. Dolan. A wonderful history of the Iditarod dog sled race and the most famous female musher. A great way to introduce girls to non-fiction.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.


Slayed is by Amanda Marrone. Daphne Van Helsing's family has been slaying vampires for more than 100 years. At sixteen all she wants to know is why her family can't get a "real" job. Their latest job in a small town in Maine pairs them up with their rivals the Harkers. Tyler Harker is a total hottie, unfortunately their families are sworn enemies - just Daphne's luck. Then the families discover there's more that goes bump in the night than just vampires and they must team up to save the town from something even worse. Just as good as Devoured, makes you wish for a sequel.

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

Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems & Essays

Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems & Essays is by Mary Oliver.  A wonderful collection of nature poetry. Oliver is so descriptive. A book even non-poetry lovers will enjoy. An excellent introduction to the wonderful world of poetry.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

The Magic Thief: Found

The Magic Thief: Found is by Sarah Prineas. The finale of the original and charming Magic Thief series. Conn must find his locus magicalicus to save the magic of Wellmet from the approach of the evil Arhionvar. On his quest Conn will discover his stone and the truth about the magic in his world. Can he recover his stone and save Wellmet? Will doing so cost him more than he can imagine? A wonderful story and a good finish to the series. 

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.  


Perfect is by Natasha Friend. Isabelle's father has died and her family is in complete disarray. Her mother does nothing but cry. Natasha copes by forcing herself to throw up after bingeing on food. When her little sister rats her out, Isabella must go to therapy. There she is amazed to find the most popular girl in her school. She and Ashley bond even as they keep each other's guilty secret. Will their friendship help them or will it only make things worse. A realistic look at the effect eating disorders have on teens.

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

Winter Poems

Winter Poems is by Barbara Rogasky. A wonderful collection of winter poems for all ages. A great book!

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.

The Cruisers

The Cruisers is by Walter Dean Myers. Zander and his friends publish a newspaper at their school in Harlem for the gifted and talented. When the school starts a unit on the Civil War the students are split into North and South sympathizers. The Cruisers are given the unenviable task of playing peacemaker and preventing the war. They are forced to consider the meaning free speech, democracy, and what it may cost to stand up for a cause. An excellent opening to Myers' new series.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.