Saturday, November 29, 2014


Brimstone is by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The fifth book in the Pendergast series. D'Agosta is back; he has left Canada and returned to New York. His job with the NYPD is gone, so he takes a demotion and is working as a Sergeant in the South Hampton, Long Island police force. He thinks his career is going nowhere, and then a rich art critic is found dead in his Long Island mansion. He has been burned to death, from the inside out. The smell of brimstone is everywhere and there is a cloven hoof burned into the wood floor. Did the devil come for his own? Then FBI Special Agent Pendergast appears and sucks D'Agosta back into his world of weird crime investigations. This tale takes the pair from New York to Italy in search of a murderer, but is the murderer human or otherworldly? Fans of this series will relish this installment.

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

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems is by Nikki Giovanni. Fans of this famous African-American poet, and those new to her work, will enjoy this book. Giovanni gives us a very personal take on being black in America. Her work has a definite bias, but is well worth the read.

Ratings: 10th grade - 8 out of 10.

A Gathering of Flowers: Stories About Being Young in America

A Gathering of Flowers: Stories About Being Young in America is edited by Joyce Carol Thomas. A fine collection of short stories by authors such as Gary Soto, Lois Lowry, and Rick Wernli. These stories explore growing up in America from a variety of ethnic aspects, as well as a take on growing up in America science fiction style. A charming book of stories for young people that includes fables, fantasies, and well crafted looks at what it means to be young.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

Power Play

Power Play is by Ridley Pearson. The fourth book in The Kingdom Keepers series. The Keepers are crossing over, but not by their own choice. The Evil Queen and Cruella DeVil have found a way to become DHI's themselves and are trying to trap the Keepers in the syndrome, but do they have an even bigger plan? For those of us who have been asking "where are their parents while all of this is happening?"; this installment gives us some insight into the Keepers' family dynamics. Fans of the series will definitely find it hard to wait for the next book, as the Keepers find new allies.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tomb of the Golden Bird

Tomb of the Golden Bird is by Elizabeth Peters. The eighteenth book in the Amelia Peabody series. This installment is set in 1922. Emerson thinks he knows where the tomb of Tutankhamen might be located. However, his plan to get Howard Carter to let him dig in the Valley of the Kings backfires and he is banned from the site. While Emerson watches his rival excavate the find of a lifetime, Amelia and Ramses try to unlock the secret of a coded document Sethos has stolen. Arriving on their doorstep sick and pursued by unknown enemies, Sethos involves the Emerson clan in another murderous affair. Fans of the series will not be disappointed.

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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Shadow Dragons

The Shadow Dragons is by James A. Owen. The fourth book in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. The three caretakers must travel forward in time to prevent the Winter King's shadow from taking over both the Archipelago and the Summer Country. In this installment of the series, you find out much more about the former caretakers, as well as those who wanted to be caretakers. Another highly imaginative entry in this fantastic series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation: The Pox Party

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation: The Pox Party is by M.T. Anderson. The first book in the Octavian Nothing series. Set during the build up to the American Revolution in Boston, Octavian is a young black slave being raised by a group of philosophers. As he grows older he discovers he is being studied and comes to learn what slavery really means.  While some aspects are based on historical fact, the novel takes liberties with American history and creates an eerie version of early America. A fascinating novel.

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

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Spirit of Josephine

The Spirit of Josephine is by Florence Ladd. Violet Fields is a black American expat. She became famous singing in Paris clubs and music halls. She was inspired by the magnificent Josephine Baker, whose spirit visits Violet at times. She was been alienated from her family in Kentucky for years. When her niece arrives from the U.S. wanting to follow in her aunt's show business footsteps, Violet is forced to renew family ties. This story, set in Paris, looks at racial issues in America and France, the expatriate experience, the importance of family, and the difficulties involved in keeping family together. 

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

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Midnight Palace

The Midnight Palace is by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Boy does this guy know horror! He is the Stephen King for young adults. Set in India in the 1930s, this is the story of orphan twins who are pursed by a family curse. With the help of a group of friends Ben and Sheere must solve the mystery of their father's past and face the horrible creature that wants them dead.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Sunday Philosophy Club

The Sunday Philosophy Club is by Alexander McCall Smith. The first book in the Isabel Dalhousie series. Fans of McCall Smith's The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency series will enjoy this series as well. This story is set in Scotland, not Botswana. Isabel is the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics and she lives in Edinburgh with her housekeeper Grace. Her niece Cat owns a local deli. While at a concert, she sees a young man fall to his death from the upper balcony. Isabel can't help wondering if it was an accident, suicide, or murder - so she sets out to solve the mystery herself. The type of charming mystery we've come to expect from this author.

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

The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project is by Graeme Simsion. Don Tillman is an Australian professor of genetics. He is also "wired differently" from other people. He decides to find a "partner" and sets about circulating questionnaires to achieve this end. Then his best friend Gene introduces him to Rosie. Don quickly disqualifies her as a partner, but finds her search for her biological father fascinating. This story is funny and sad in turns. What is it that we are really looking for in a mate? Having taught students with Asperger's and autism, Don's behavior is familiar and believable. Fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will enjoy this book. A charming love story!

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