Monday, July 22, 2013

The Beasties

The Beasties is by William Sleator. When Doug and his family move to a deserted farm house so his father can study fungus, they discover many of the surrounding logging camps have been vandalized and locals have lost arms, legs, eyes, and other limbs. At first he doesn't believe the stories about "the beasties", but then he and his sister are lured below ground and find themselves embroiled in a war between the humans and the "beasties". Another of Sleator's horror tales for children.

Ratings: 5th grade - 7 out of 10 - V (violence).

Cross My Heart

Cross My Heart is by Sasha Gould. The first book in the Segreta series. The story is set in Venice in the year 1585. Laura della Scala is the second daughter in a prominent, but deteriorating, family. On the death of her older sister Beatrice, she is returned from the convent where she has been living to her family home to marry the fiance of her dead sister and save the family fortune. Only her fiance is old enough to be her grandfather. In desperation she turns to the Segreta, a secret society of women who deal in secrets and manage much that goes on in Venice, albeit behind the scenes. The Segreta accepts Laura as a member and prevents her marriage, but when Laura begins to suspect the Segreta was involved in her sister's murder, she must decide where her true loyalties lie.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10 - V (violence).

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is by Malcolm Gladwell. A fascinating book that researches what causes some trends to take off and others to fizzle. Gladwell uses an easy to understand blend of anecdote and research to reveal the secrets of "the tipping point." A interesting, intellectual, and thought-provoking read.

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Crank is by Ellen Hopkins. Kristina seems to be the perfect daughter; she's a good student, quiet, never gets into trouble. Then she goes to visit her father and discovers an alter ego (Bree), a boyfriend, and "the monster" - crystal meth. She allows Bree to take over her life and even after she returns home she can't let go of the "monster". This novel, written in free verse poetry, follows a life spiraling out of control. This book is reminiscent of Go Ask Alice, only brought into the new millennium. A terrifying look at a problem facing modern teens.

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

The Cursed

The Cursed is by Michael Panckridge. Lewis is a teenage boy in a boarding school. His father was killed in the Amazon on a scientific mission to find a tribe of invisible people. Now his mother, cursed by the tribe while pregnant with Lewis, has disappeared - literally. Lewis finds himself drawn into a plot by an evil organization to discover the secret of invisibility. His mother's friend Jonathon, Lewis, and his school friend Abby find themselves in the Amazon trying to find his mother and protect the invisible tribe from the Light Crusaders. A fast read for young readers looking for action.

Ratings: 6th grade - 5 out of 10 - V (violence).


Legend is by Marie Lu. The first book in a new dystopian fiction series. June is a teen born into one of the Republic's wealthiest families. She is a prodigy meant to follow in the footsteps of her brother Metias. When Metias is killed by the Republic's most wanted criminal June is determined to hunt him down and see him brought to justice. Fifteen-year-old Day was born in the slums of the Republic, but is he really the evil character the Republic makes him seem? As June gets to know Day she begins to wonder if everything she has been told all her life is really the truth. Boys and girls will enjoy this series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10 - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).


Catch-22 is by Joseph Heller. One of the classic war novels of all time. Heller writes about a bomber group stationed on a fictional Mediterranean island during WWII. Yossarian doesn't want to fly any more missions because people are trying to kill him. Even though he has completed his allotted number of missions he is not allowed to go home because of the infamous Catch-22 which states that you must be crazy to be grounded, but if you ask to be grounded that proves you are not crazy since not wanting to go into dangerous situations is a rational thought, and if you have rational thoughts you can't be insane. Heller uses hilarious farce to draw attention to bleak and horrible circumstances. This novel is a classic for a reason, a Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

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

Thursday, July 11, 2013

That Was Then, This is Now

That Was Then, This is Now is by S.E. Hinton. Byron & Mark have been friends since childhood. Byron's mother even took Mark in after the death of his parents. But now things are changing, Byron has found a girl he really likes and he and Mark are growing apart. A heart-wrenching tale of growing up and the consequences of the choices we make. Fans of The Outsiders will love this book.

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


Dune is by Frank Herbert. The first book in the Dune Chronicles. The science fiction classic about political intrigue and revolution on the desert world of Arrakis. A must read for science fiction lovers!

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

Secrets in the Shadows

Secrets in the Shadows is by Anne Schraff. The third book in the Bluford High series. Roylin wants to impress a new girl so he "borrows" money from an elderly neighbor. When the building super confronts Roylin with Mr. Miller's death and threatens to tell the police he stole the money, Roylin's life becomes a nightmare.

Ratings: 8th grade - 7 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content).

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan is by Nancy Springer. The fourth book in the Enola Holmes series. Enola must keep her friend Lady Cecily from being forced into marriage. Unbeknownst to Enola, Cecily's mother has hired her brother Sherlock to stop the marriage as well. Can Enola prevent the marriage and avoid her brothers at the same time? A cute series girls will enjoy.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

The Circle of Blood

The Circle of Blood is by Alane Ferguson. The third book in the Forensic Mystery series. Cammie is trying to get to know the mother who has recently come back into her life. But when a young girl is murdered and her mother is arrested, Cammie must put herself in danger to save her mother. Another exciting installment in this excellent series.

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

Closed for the Season

Closed for the Season is by Mary Downing Hahn. When Logan's family moves into a new house, the boy next door tells him a lady was murdered there. Logan & Arthur decide to find the money embezzled from a defunct amusement park and solve the murder. 

Ratings: 6th grade - 7 out of 10 - V (violence).


Picklemania is by Jerry Spinelli. Pickles and his friends are waiting for it to snow so they can make use of the new sled Pickles has built. They must also figure out all the problems associated with middle school.

Ratings: 4th grade - 6 out of 10.

The Mind's Eye

The Mind's Eye is by Oliver Sacks. A book of case studies about people able to navigate life after losing what many if us consider vital abilities such as the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, and the sense of sight. A fascinating look at the ability of human beings to adapt.

Ratings: Adult - 8 out of 10.

The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood

The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood is by Helene Cooper. Helene was born in Liberia to a rich and influential family descended from freed slaves sent from America to found a country in Africa. Then in 1980, a coup changes her life forever. Her family flees to America where she attends school and becomes a journalist. After a near death experience covering the Iraq war, she decides to return to her homeland and face her past.

Ratings: 11th grade - 7 out of 10 - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Yard

The Yard is by Alex Grecian. The first book in the Scotland Yard's Murder Squad series. Scotland Yard is in turmoil; they failed to find Jack the Ripper and the populace of London has lost faith in them. A new "murder squad" has been created to deal only with murders. Now another killer has surfaced and is killing policeman and Inspector Day and the other detectives must catch him before they are next on the list. Dr. Bernard Kingsley, the Yard’s first forensic pathologist, is a totally enjoyable character. A great vacation read!

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

Monday, July 1, 2013


Reached is by Ally Condie. The final book in the Matched trilogy. Xander, Cassia, and Ky are all working for the Rising, but as the Rising finally begins to take over they begin to wonder if there is more to the Rising than meets the eye. As a plague sweeps the provinces, the trio begins to wonder how it came about and is the Rising's cure, really the cure. This finale really brings home the point that often times in politics there is not a clear line between the good guys and the bad guys. A very satisfying conclusion.

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