Friday, August 29, 2014

Orphan Train

Orphan Train is by Christina Baker Kline. A wonderful novel about a little known chapter of American history. Between 1854 and 1929 more than 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children were transported from New York to the Midwest to match them up with new families. This novel, which alternates between the past and the present, looks at Molly a troubled teen in a foster home who has been assigned community service for stealing a book from the local library. She will meet her hours helping, Vivian - a widow near ninety, clean out her attic. As they began to work together Molly learns more of Vivian's story. Vivian was a "train-rider" and her story is similar in many ways to Molly's. These two women help each other in ways neither knew they needed help. A masterful told story.

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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dark Flame

Dark Flame is by Alyson Noel. The fourth book in the Immortals series. As Ever tries to help Haven adjust to immortality, she must also deal with the spell she cast which has backfired and bound her ever closer to Roman. How can she resist Roman's pull, keep Damen from finding out what she's done, avoid Jude, and get the antidote Damen needs from Roman? Fans of this series will not be disappointed.

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

Feeding Frenzy

Feeding Frenzy is by Michael Spradlin. The second book in the Killer Species series. Dr. Catalyst is about to be heard from again. He is releasing a new killer species of fish into the ocean supposedly to destroy lionfish, but they are also attacking people. Emmet and Calvin must again step forward to find Dr. Catalyst and stop him. Boys will enjoy this book as much or more as they did the first one.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10 - V (violence).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Great Taos Bank Robbery and Other Stories of the Southwest

The Great Taos Bank Robbery and Other Stories of the Southwest is by Tony Hillerman. A classic collection of nonfiction essays about life in New Mexico. It is a must read for anyone interested in the history and humor of life in the American Southwest. The story of The Great Taos Bank Robbery alone is worth the price of the book.

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

The Necromancer

The Necromancer is by Michael Scott. The fourth installment in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. Josh and Sophie have returned to San Francisco, but their trip home doesn't last long. Nicholas and Perenelle arrive to take Josh to Prometheus to be trained in fire magic. Joan and Scatty are still trapped in another world and Saint-Germain is determined to save his wife. Dee and Virginia Dare are plotting to take over the world, while Machiavelli and Billy the Kid attempt to release the monsters held on Alcatraz into San Francisco. Another action packed installment in a magical series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10 - V (violence).

Sunday, August 10, 2014

West Indian Folk Tales

West Indian Folk Tales retold by Philip Sherlock. A charming selection of Caribbean folk tales that include fables of the birds and animals of the West Indies: including Anansi, the spider. Twenty-one selections from the Arawak and the Carib people, and from the Ashanti people of West Africa. A great introduction to folk tales and legends.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Children of the Storm

Children of the Storm is by Elizabeth Peters. The fifteenth book in the amazing Amelia Peabody series. The Great War is ended and Egypt is getting back to normal. Nefret and Ramses are back excavating with their parents, along with their twin children. Walter, Evelyn, David, Lia and their children are also joining the party. Several pieces of ancient jewelry are stolen from Cyrus and then the thief is found murdered. Ramses is kidnapped and drugged by a woman dressed as Hathor, and a series of "accidents" begin to occur that set the Emerson clan hot on the trail of another mysterious killer. Fans of the series will love this book as well.

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

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park is by Rainbow Rowell. Park is the son of a Korean mother and an American father who feels like an outsider in the town that is his home. One day a new girl gets on the school bus, a new girl who everyone makes fun of. Eleanor has red hair, is overweight, and dresses in a very different manner from the other girls. Park allows her to sit on the seat next to him and a relationship begins to develop that changes both their lives. A stunning, emotionally-charged book that is about teens, but not necessarily for teens. A fantastic book!

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

The Kill Order

The Kill Order is by James Dashner. A prequel to the Maze Runner series. Mark and his friend Trina were in the subway when the sun flares hit the earth. As they struggle to survive the aftermath of the disaster they pick up other friends along the way, like Alec and Lana who are former soldiers. Things seem to be on the mend when they make their way to a settlement in the mountains. Then a flying ship arrives firing darts at the villagers. Those hit die almost immediately, others develop a sickness spread by a virus that drives them mad. Mark and his friends try to discover the source of the virus while trying to escape those maddened by the disease.

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

What a Song Can Do: 12 Riffs on the Power of Music

What a Song Can Do: 12 Riffs on the Power of Music is edited by Jennifer Armstrong. Twelve short stories all relating to the power of music in the lives of teenagers. These charming stories are written by such amazing authors as Ron Koertge, David Levithan, James Bruchac, and of course, the editor herself. A magnificent collection of stories.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

All the Small Poems and Fourteen More

All the Small Poems and Fourteen More is by Valerie Worth. A charming book of short poems for children and young adults. The illustrations are beautiful. A great introduction to poetry.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.


Entice is by Carrie Jones. The third book in the Need series. Zara has allowed Astley to change her and she is now a pixie. She and Astley, her pixie king, must find a way to Valhalla so she can rescue her boyfriend Nick. They must also find a way to keep everyone in Bedford safe from the evil pixies led by Frank. Will Zara be able to live with the price she will have to pay to have Nick back? Fans of this series will not be disappointed.

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

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Figs and Fate: Stories About Growing Up in the Arab World

Figs and Fate: Stories About Growing Up in the Arab World is by Elsa Marston. Five charming and moving short stories of teenagers growing up in the Middle East. Each story shows the challenges of growing up and growing up in the Arab world. The settings range from Baghdad, to Syria, to Egypt, to Lebanon, to a refugee camp in Palestine. A excellent look at a world few in America get a close look at; teens will realize that even in other countries they all face some of the same issues growing up.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Weedflower is by Cynthia Kadohata. Sumiko and her brother live with their uncle and his family after the death of their parents. The family grows flowers to sell in the California flower markets. She is twelve in December of 1941 when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. The story follows their family as they are interned in a camp in Poston, Arizona. The camp is on land taken from the Mohave reservation and the Native Americans aren't happy with the new arrivals. As Sumiko befriends a young Mohave boy, she discovers the plight of the Japanese is similar to that of the Native Americans.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

A Treasury of Best-Loved Children's Poetry

A Treasury of Best-Loved Children's Poetry is edited by Mike Freeman. A great selection of children's poetry.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Reckless is by Cornelia Funke. The first book in the Mirrorworld series. Jacob Reckless lives with his brother and mother in the house from which his father disappeared years ago. In his father's study Jacob finds a mirror that leads to another world. Convinced this is what happened to his father, he begins to travel frequently to the other world to search for him. When his younger brother discovers Jacob's secret and follows him through the mirror, he is injured by the Goyl, a race of people made of stone. Jacob finds himself in a race against time and ruthless enemies to save his brother's life. A fast-paced action fantasy boys and girls will love.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (violence).

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky is by Heidi W. Durrow. Set in the 1980s, Rachel is the daughter of an African-American GI father and a Danish mother. She is the sole survivor of a rooftop fall that kills her mother and her siblings. She goes to live with her paternal grandmother and discovers that because of her light skin, blue eyes, and accent she is not black enough for the black community and too black for the white community to accept. Rachel must learn to deal with the tragedy of her past and her present identity. A painful, yet interesting, story of a girl whose tragic past affects her future and that of those around her. This book deals in a clear, yet tasteful way, with issues of drug abuse, alcoholism, suicide, and racism. It also uses a racial term that may disconcert some, but which is necessary to further the story.

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