Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is by L. Frank Baum. The first of the Oz books. The classic tale of Dorothy, the Tinman, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and Toto as they travel across Oz to meet the Wonderful Wizard. They each have something to ask of the Wizard. If you've seen the movie and not read the book, they are different. A classic must read.

Ratings: 5th grade - 10 out of 10.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders is by Vincent Bugliosi. A fascinating look at one of the most horrendous crime sprees in American history. In the summer of 1969, Charles Manson sent members of his Family out to commit murder to start a race war. Their bloody crimes held a generation enthralled. This account told by the prosecutor who tried the Family members, is a mesmerizing read. A must read for lovers of true crime stories.

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

The Wizard Heir

The Wizard Heir is by Cinda Williams Chima. The second book in the Werelind series. Seph is a sixteen-year-old wizard. He has spent most of his life being kicked out of one school after another. He is orphaned and untrained and his powers are out of control. He is sent to The Havens and thinks he has finally found an answer to his questions. The headmaster, Gregory Leicester, is training a group of young wizards and he wants Seph to join. When Seph discovers Leicester has a dark purpose for his group and he kills two of Seph's friends, Seph decides to fight back. Will he survive? Will he find a way to control his powers and discover the secret of his birth? A great addition to this series.

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


Fang is by James Patterson. The sixth book in the Maximum Ride series. Angel prophecies that Fang will be the first to die, and soon. The flock is unsettled by Max's growing relationship with Fang and votes her out as leader. Angel takes over the flock, but does she have an ulterior motive. Dylan, another "bird kid" shows up claiming to be Max's other half. Will the flock be able to fight off their threats from outside while being torn apart from the insider? Fans of this series will not be disappointed.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tales from the Arabian Nights

Tales from the Arabian Nights is edited by Andrew Lang. A wonderful selection of tales from the original masterpiece. The illustrations by Edmund Dulac are beautiful. While reading the original full length tales is recommended, this shorter version is perfect for introducing younger readers to these magnificent and exotic stories.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Who Ran My Underwear Up the Flagpole

Who Ran My Underwear Up the Flagpole is by Jerry Spinelli. A continuation of the School Daze series for those who enjoyed Picklemania and Do the Funky Pickle. Pickles has joined the band, Sunny tries out for cheerleading, Salem becomes the football team's manager, and Eddie goes out for football. Spinelli fans will love this book.

Ratings: 5th grade - 7 out of 10.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Enchantress

The Enchantress is by Michael Scott. The final installment in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. Sophie and Josh must decide whether to side with their "parents" and rule Danu Talis, or thwart them and save their world. The Flamels use the last day of their lives to stop the monsters on Alcatraz from escaping into San Francisco; and their friends, both in San Francisco and on Danu Talis, fight for their lives. Who will win and who will lose in the epic fight for the survival of mankind?

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See is by Anthony Doerr. An wonderful story, set during WWII, of a blind French girl and a young German boy. Werner and his sister live in an orphanage in Germany. He is a wonder with electronics, but doesn't want the future he sees before him in the mines. His skill lands him in a brutal academy training to be a Hitler Youth. He must use his abilities to track the resistance. Marie-Laure lives with her father who is the locksmith for the Paris Museum of Natural History. Her father builds models of their neighborhood to help her find her way around. When her father is entrusted with the safety of a beautiful diamond, they head to the walled city of Saint-Malo to the home of her reclusive great-uncle. Her path collides with Werner's during the shelling of Saint-Malo as they both try to survive the horrors of the war. A beautifully written story. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read.

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lost Lake

Lost Lake is by Sarah Addison Allen. Kate's husband died a year ago. She has been lost in grief and allowed her mother-in-law (Cricket) to run things. As she and her young daughter prepare to leave their home and move in with Cricket, she begins to wake up and find she does want to live again. When her daughter, Devin, finds an old post card in the attic from her great aunt Eby asking her to come to visit her at Lost Lake, Kate decides to go. Lost Lake was the best summer of her childhood and she feels drawn to return. When they arrive they discover Eby is about to sell Lost Lake to a real estate developer. As the few remaining regular customers arrive to spend their last summer at Lost Lake, Allen's special brand of magical realism and romance begins to take over. Fans of Allen's writing will love this novel as well. Her special take on the South and the people who live there is as charming as ever.

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

The Blood of Olympus

The Blood of Olympus is by Rick Riordan. The fifth book in The Heroes of Olympus series. The heroes must get the statue of Athena back to Camp Half-Blood to stop the war with the Roman who are besieging the camp. They must also reach Athens to stop Gaea from rising. Will Percy, Jason, and their friends be able to stop Gaea and save their camps and the world? Fans of this series will not be disappointed.

Ratings: 6th grade - 7 out of 10.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Master and Commander

Master and Commander is by Patrick O'Brian. The first book in the Aubrey and Maturin series. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, this is the tale of a young British lieutenant who is promoted to the command of his first ship, the H.M.S. Sophie. Along with his ship's surgeon and friend Stephen Maturin, Aubrey must follow orders and social conventions to assure his promotion and the success of his crew. The culminating battle against a Spanish frigate is worth the price of the book. A wonderfully factual piece of historical fiction.

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

Animal Farm

Animal Farm is by George Orwell. The classic political companion to 1984. A must-read classic for all readers and students of human nature. The animals of Manor Farm take over and banish Mr. Jones. Two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, then take control and set up a "workers' paradise" for animals. Very soon Snowball is run off and declared a traitor, and Napoleon takes sole charge, along with his cadre of vicious dogs and other supporters. As a totalitarian state develops we see the lot of the regular animals worsen, even as Napoleon and his followers prosper. "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" is every bit as prescient today as it was when Orwell wrote the book in the 1940s.

Ratings: 8th grade - 10 out of 10.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches is by Alan Bradley. The sixth book in the Flavia de Luce series. The body of Flavia's mother has been found and is being brought home to Bishop's Lacey. As the body is being taken from the train, a strange man approaches Flavia with a mysterious warning. He is then pushed in front of the departing train and murdered. Who was he? What did the warning he gave Flavia mean? Who are the unknown relatives who suddenly appear? Flavia must answer all these questions as she deals with the death of a mother she never knew.

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

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is by Walter Isaacson. Isaacson is one of the best biographers alive and this work is another fantastic addition to his catalogue. His amazing access to Jobs and his friends, family, colleagues, and competitors leads to a thorough and detailed account of the life of one of the most fascinating men in American business. Jobs exerted no control over the book and put no restrictions on Isaacson. He didn't even read it before it was published. As a result, this book is a well rounded look at Jobs's faults as well as his successes. A must read book for everyone who has any interest in Apple and its products.

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