Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Gift

The Gift is by James Patterson and Ned Rust. The second book in the Witch & Wizard series. Whit and Whisty are still struggling to avoid the clutches of the evil One Who is The One. As they work with the resistance to rescue children from the New Order they discover that not everyone they think is a friend can be trusted. This story follows their re-capture by the New Order, another escape, and their struggle to understand their powers, their place in the resistance, and their need to find their parents. They must also face betrayals and learn to trust each other. Fans of this series will enjoy this installment.

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

America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It

America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It is by Mark Steyn. Conservative columnist and icon Mark Steyn discusses the Islamization of Europe and its advance through the rest of the world. While it appears the West is going the way of the Roman Empire, Steyn lays out a plan for America to survive. The question is not can America survive, but do we have the will to survive. Whether you are a fan of Steyn's politics or not, the position laid out it in this book is thought-provoking at the very least.

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cybele's Secret

Cybele's Secret is by Juliet Marillier. The sequel to Wildwood Dancing, the story takes place six years later as Paula and her father travel to Istanbul to trade for a mysterious religious artifact. Then a fellow trader is murdered, and they discover there are others who also want Cybele's Secret and will do anything to acquire it. But the artifact is also sought by those from the Other Kingdom, and they send Paula's sister Tati to help her get the artifact for their purposes. A charming sequel filled with danger, adventure, betrayal, and a love story to boot. 

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

The Alchemist

The Alchemist is by Paulo Coelho. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read. You must read this short allegorical book. Correctly compared to The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, this is the tale of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, who decides to travel to Egypt to find his treasure near the pyramids. Along the way he meets a number of strange and wonderful characters who help him fulfill his mission. The book strives to teach us about the nature of wisdom, listening to our hearts, and following our dreams. A wonderful book for young and old alike.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Northern Light

A Northern Light is by Jennifer Donnelly. Set in the Adirondack mountains in northern New York in the early 1900s, this a wonderful coming of age story based on a real murder that occurred in the area in 1906. Mattie is sixteen and wants to be a writer in an era where women have few options. Her mother died of cancer and she is struggling to help her bitter father to keep the family farm going after her brother leaves home. She wants to work at a local resort hotel to earn money for college, but her father refuses to allow her to work, until he needs her salary to help buy a new mule for the farm. While at the hotel, Mattie is given some letters to burn by a female guest who later turns up dead. As Mattie decides what to do with the letters, the choice she must make involves her own future as well. A poignant and thought-provoking tale.

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

Monday, November 11, 2013

Outliers: The Story of Success

Outliers: The Story of Success is by Malcolm Gladwell. A study of the best and brightest and whether or not there are factors other than talent that make them what they are. Gladwell argues that we need to look at the world around them, to truly understand what makes them successful and how we can make others successful. A must read, thoughtfully written, and well-researched book.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10.

The Black Book of Secrets

The Black Book of Secrets is by F.E. Higgins. The first book in the Tales from the Sinister City series. Ludlow Fitch is running away from his drunken family, he escapes the city and finds himself in a small mountain village where he is taken in to work for a mysterious man, Joe Zabbidou, who is a pawnbroker of secrets. Ludlow begins to write people's secrets in the "Black Book" and tries to understand how Joe's business works. A creepy and cautionary tale. I hope the rest of the books in this series are this inventive and well written.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.


Sent is by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The second book in the time travel series, The Missing. Jonah, Katherine, Chip, and Alex are in 15th century England. They discover that Chip is really Edward V, the King of England, and Alex is his brother, Richard. They are about to be killed by their uncle who wants the throne. Jonah and Katherine must save their friends and fix time, so that the four of them can return home to the 20th century. If you are a follower of Haddix's work, you will enjoy this new series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.

Spoon River Anthology

Spoon River Anthology is by Edgar Lee Masters. Masters' classic compilation of free verse monologues from the dead residents of Spoon River. A true American classic and a must read for poetry lovers everywhere.

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

The Glass Word

The Glass Word is by Kai Meyer. The final installment in The Dark Reflections Trilogy. Merle, Junipa, Vermithrax, and the Flowing Queen arrive in Egypt and invade the fortress of the sphinxes to stop the Son of the Mother from awakening. Serafin, Lalapeya, and Eft are also on their way to Egypt to find their friends. Will they succeed in bringing down the sphinxes and saving Venice?

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Daughter of the Stars

Daughter of the Stars is by Phyllis A. Whitney. Lacey's mother took her away from her family in Harper's Ferry after the murder of her father. She has never told Lacey anything about her father or the existence of her family. When she intercepts a letter from her aunt to her mother begging her mother to come home, Lacey decides to go herself. Once there, she discovers she has more family than she has ever imagined, and is confronted with the truth about her father's death. If you are a Whitney fan, you will love this book also.

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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fallen Angels

Fallen Angels is by Walter Dean Myers. Perry is a Harlem teenager who find himself in the trenches in Vietnam. He and his squad are fighting to stay alive and asking themselves what they are fighting for and if it is really worth the cost. An amazing coming-of-age story that looks at Vietnam and the African American experience there. A great tale for this generation of teenagers who know nothing about the 60s, and a poignant reminder for those of us who lived them.

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

Buried Onions

Buried Onions is by Gary Soto. Eddie lives in the barrio in Fresno, California. His father, two uncles, and best friend are dead. He does not want to be a part of the gang lifestyle that surrounds him, but is it possible to get out or will he be forced into a lifestyle he doesn't want? A novel that asks the question of whether change is possible or if we are forced by our environment into a specific lifestyle. If you enjoy Soto's work, you will like this one as well. You can't help cheering for Eddie.

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

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pacific Vortex

Pacific Vortex is by Clive Cussler. The first book in the Dirk Pitt series. Dirk is a deep-sea expert and treasure hunter. When a note in a bottle washes up on the beach where he happens to be sunning, Dirk finds himself drawn into the hunt for a missing Navy sub lost in a mysterious area call the Pacific Vortex - the Bermuda Triangle of the Pacific. He only has a limited amount of time to retrieve the sub before the Navy fires a missile to destroy it; with time running out Pitt must descend into a secret underwater world from which he may never return.

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

Lord Sunday

Lord Sunday is by Garth Nix. The final installment in the Keys to the Kingdom series. The House is being over taken by Nothing; the Piper and Lady Saturday have joined together against Lord Sunday, and Arthur by extension. In the series finale, Arthur must wrench the seventh key from Lord Sunday and save the House and the rest of the universe from destruction - but is that what the Will has in mind? A satisfying and somewhat surprising ending.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

If I Stay

If I Stay is by Gayle Forman. The first in a pair of charming books that adults and teenagers alike will love. At seventeen, Mia has everything going for her: a family she loves who love her, a great boyfriend, a wonderful best friend, and a future as a musician headed for Julliard. Then in one shocking moment on a snowy road everything changes. After the accident Mia finds herself in a disembodied state watching as doctors fight to save her from the car crash that killed her entire family. She watches her grandparents, friends, and boyfriend deal with their anguish, and must decide whether to stay or leave and join her parents and brother. A thoroughly enjoyable and touching story.

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

Marcelo in the Real World

Marcelo in the Real World is by Francisco X. Stork. Marcelo is a teenager with an autism-like impairment. He has always gone to a special school and wants to continue to go there. His father, a powerful attorney, wants Marcelo to experience life in the "real world". He tells Marcelo if he comes to work at his father's law firm for the summer and completes his tasks, Marcelo will be able to remain at Patterson School, if he chooses to do so. As Marcelo interacts with people at the law firm, he discovers what life is really like in the "real world". A marvelous story in the vein of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Watching Marcelo move through life and grow makes you wonder if maybe we "normal people" aren't the ones with the impairment.

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