Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In The Company of Cheerful Ladies

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies is by Alexander McCall Smith. The sixth book in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. Mma Ramotswe finds an intruder in her house, a pumpkin on her porch, and an unexpected visitor upsetting her life. Mma Makutsi attends a dance class. Charlie, the apprentice at the garage, gets involved with an older woman. All of these instances make for another wonderful look into life in Botswana. Fans of the series will be thrilled.

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

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Torment is by Lauren Kate. The second book in the Fallen series. After the debacle at Sword and Cross Luce has been transferred to a new school in California. One run by an angel and a demon for a mixture of normal students and Nephilim. Luce wants to trust Daniel, after all he is the love of her life, but he gives her orders and doesn't seem to trust her enough to explain what's really going on. Luce and two of her new friends set out to discover the truth for themselves, but will the truth be the end of Luce, her friends, and her relationship with Daniel?

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity).

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Airman's Odyssey

Airman's Odyssey is by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. A collection of three novels by the author of The Little Prince. Wind, Sand, and Stars, the first of the three novels, recounts Saint-Exupery's work flying for an early airmail carrier. He takes us along on his flights over the African Sahara and the South American Andes. Night Flight, the second of the three novels, is the story of Fabien, a pilot for the Patagonia Mail. Even though a fierce storm is forecast, he is ordered out on his night flight. When contact with Fabien is lost, his boss, is left with nothing to do but try and figure out where his plane might have crashed and take the news to Fabien's waiting wife. Flight to Arras, the third of the three, is the story of the French Air Force squadron Saint-Exupery was a member of during WWII. A wonderful look at the dangers of flight in its infancy and the bravery of the men who flew those early planes.

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

Runaway Amish Girl: The Great Escape

Runaway Amish Girl: The Great Escape is by Emma Gingerich. The autobiography of a young Amish teenager and her desire to escape from her Amish family and live like the "English". The reactions of her parents and siblings are emotional and intense. A look inside the mysterious world of the Amish from the perspective of someone who left it.

Ratings: 9th grade - 7 out of 10.


Swamplandia! is by Karen Russell. The Bigtree clan owns a run down tourist trap in the Florida Everglades, called Swamplandia, where the family raises and wrestles alligators they call "seths". Thirteen-year-old Ava, her brother Kiwi, and her sister Ossie have never known another home. After the death of their headliner mother, the family disintegrates. Her father withdraws, her brother heads for the mainland to work at a rival theme park, and her sister runs off into the swamp with a mysterious character called the Dredgeman. Her search for her sister takes Ava deep into the mystical and dangerous Everglades.

Ratings: Adult - 7 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

The Winter People

The Winter People is by Jennifer McMahon. Horrible secrets exist in the small town of West Hall, Vermont. The town has a history of mysterious deaths and disappearances. The most famous is that of Sara Harrison Shea, found dead behind her house just months after the death of her young daughter in 1908. Sara supposedly knew a way to bring the dead back to life, which she recorded in her journal. Only she ripped out the pages with the treacherous secret recorded on them and hid them in her home before she died and no one has been able to find them. In the present day, Ruthie, her younger sister and mother live in Sara's old house. She knows nothing of Sara or her death until the day her mother disappears and she finds a copy of Sara's journal while searching her mother's bedroom. Her search for her mother sets off a string of events which culminate in one horrifying night in the woods near the Devil's Hand.

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Leaving Time

Leaving Time is by Jodi Picoult. Thirteen-year-old Jenna Metcalf has been looking for her mother all her life. Her mother disappeared ten years earlier after an accident at the elephant sanctuary run by her parents that resulted in the death of an employee - who was trampled by an elephant. Jenna's father is institutionalized after suffering a mental breakdown the night of the tragedy, and Jenna has been living with her grandmother. Determined to learn the truth, Jenna seeks out a washed-up psychic and an alcoholic private detective and convinces them to help her discover what happened to her mother. A wonderful story interspersed with everything you never wanted to know about elephants. This book comes complete with Picoult's usual twist at the end.

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Unwanteds

The Unwanteds is by Lisa McMann. The first book in this series, dystopian fiction for young readers. Alex and Aaron are twins in a land called Quill. When you reach the age of thirteen, you are labeled "Wanted", "Necessary", or "Unwanted". Unwanteds are those who demonstrate any imagination or creativity. Aaron is a Wanted, but Alex is Unwanted and destined to be killed. But when Alex is led away to die, he and the other Unwanteds find themselves in the magical realm of Artime where art and creativity are valued. Alex decides to bring his brother to Artime, but Aaron has his own plans. The twins' break brings war to Artime.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Monday, October 5, 2015


Thirst is by Mary Oliver. Another wonderful collection of Oliver's beautiful lyric poetry. As always, her poems speak of nature, but these poems have a spiritual bent new to her writing.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation is by Erika Swyler. When Simon Watson, a librarian, receives a book from a man he doesn't know he is intrigued. The book appears to be an old journal from a traveling circus that mentions his family. The women in his family appear to have been mermaids or tarot card readers in numerous traveling carnivals over the centuries - and they all appear to have drowned on the same day. That day is now approaching and his sister, Enola, has returned home with the carnival she travels with. Simon is terrified she will drown herself in less than a week, if he doesn't find a way to break a centuries old family curse. This book plumes the depths of family relationships and how our lives overlap down through the years. A wonderful read!

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