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Posts Tagged «fantasy»

The Reader

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

readerby Traci Chee, 442 pages, Grades 8 and up

Sefia and her aunt Nin have just escaped into the wilderness because her father was murdered. Aunt Nin teaches Sefia survival skills while Sefia tries to understand the object her father left in her care. It is a book, but no one in Sefia’s world knows what books are because, for the most part, they no longer exist, and neither does the art of reading. Sefia and her aunt are running from her father’s murderers, trying to stay clear of pirates and ninja assassins all while Sefia tries to teach herself to read so she can uncover the mystery of her father’s murder.

 

If you enjoy adventures set in fantastical locations, you might also like: Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, or Sabriel, by Garth Nix.

Scythe

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

scythe-9781442472426_lgby Neal Shusterman, 433 pages, Grades 8 and up

In the future medical technology has advanced so much that humans are basically immortal. People can heal from almost any injury even those that would be fatal today; people can also “turn the corner” when they decide they would rather be younger again, and if they choose to be a lot younger they can start another family. Clearly this presents problems when it comes to population. This is how the Scythes are devised. Scythes are an honorable organization of people who swear a sacred oath, live modestly, do not accept an income, vow to never marry or have children, and also murder a certain number of people each year to keep the population in check. Of course, it seems like a good solution, but things are never as simple in life as they might seem on paper especially when it involves killing people. As Citra and Rowan train to become Scythes they see the true lives of the Scythes; are they living up to their forefathers guidelines and intentions?

 

If you like suspenseful page-turners and you don’t mind books that are creepy, you might also enjoy Unwind, by Neal Shusterman, Break My Heart 1000 Times, by Daniel Waters, or Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

Zeroes

Friday, January 27th, 2017

24885636by Scott Westerfeld, 546 pages, Grades 8 and up.

Scam has an amazing ability to convince people by using a special power he calls his “voice.” The voice knows things and is wise and wily beyond what most adults are capable of let alone a teenager. Crash can bring down technology, Glorious Leader can unite a crowd behind his idea, Anon can disappear from people’s consciousness, and Flicker can see the world through other people’s eyes. These teens had banded together to make up a sort-of superhero club called the Zeroes until the day Scam’s voice got out of control and disrespected every one of his friends. Trying to manage on his own his voice gets him in trouble, of course. Will the team let go of the past and step up to save him?

If you enjoyed other series by Scott Westerfeld like Uglies, and Leviathan then Zeroes should appeal.  If you enjoy books about teens with special gifts or powers you might also enjoy Graceling, by  Kristin Cashore.

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Monday, November 21st, 2016

51cpfz1ul-_sy344_bo1204203200_by Robert Beatty, 292 pages, Grades 6 and up

Serafina has grown up happily with her father in the basement of the big mansion learning her place in the world. Her father fixes things and Serafina, as it turns out, is really good at catching rats. She has never spoken to the guests of the Biltmore Estate or even the family to whom the mansion belongs; she is a secret. No one at Biltmore knows she exists until one day she witnesses a young guest disappear and fights a terrible monster in a black cloak. She can’t help herself; she has to warn the others. She decides to tell Braedden Vanderbilt, nephew of the Biltmore owners, and luckily he turns out to be a reliable ally because there is a great force of evil they must combat, and Serafina needs all the help she can get.

 

If you enjoy mysterious stories you might also like Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, by Karen Foxlee, or The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman.

Carry On

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

51aT-+HwVqL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_by Rainbow Rowell, 522 pages, Grades 8 and up

Simon’s roommate, Baz, is probably a vampire, but Simon figures if he had wanted to bite him he has had plenty of opportunities to do it, so Simon probably doesn’t need have anything to worry about. He is more concerned about being able to use his wand; he is supposedly the most powerful magician in centuries, but he can’t even manage the simplest spells, so he is sure they have somehow made a terrible mistake and he will be found out as a fraud at any moment. To make matters worse there is a darkness that is spreading across England and sucking up all the magic in its path called the Mysterious Hum Drum. Simon feels like he is cursed or something because the Hum Drum seems to find Simon wherever he is. Turns out Simon has a lot to worry about in addition to the vampire roommate and the Hum Drum and being terrible at magic he also worries he’s not a very good boyfriend, and that he will most certainly disappoint the Mage who has made his education possible. Luckily he has Agatha to confide in; she is a formidable magician and a solid friend too, but even though she has Simon’s back he is not sure he will be able to survive this year at the Watford School of Magicks.

If you enjoy this book, you might also like Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell.

If you enjoy edgy books about magic and supernatural creatures you might also like: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride.

Echo

Monday, April 18th, 2016

echoby Pam Munoz Ryan, 585 pages, Grades 6-8

Echo is a book of connected stories all following a particular musical instrument through time. The first takes place in Germany at the beginning of World War 2, 1933. Friedrich’s family is worried he might be noticed and persecuted by the Nazi’s because he is such an unique child. Even though they are unable to disentangle Friedrich’s sister from the Nazi youth, they know they must escape what Germany is becoming. The next story takes place in 1935 in an orphanage in Pennsylvania; Mike and his brother Frankie are hoping to get adopted, but are planning a daring escape in the event that they don’t get adopted before its time to send the older brother to an institution for teens that would separate the boys. The final story takes place in California in 1942; Ivy Maria’s family are farmers.  A neighboring family has asked them to oversee their farm in trade for partial ownership. Their neighbors are Japanese and have been forced to move to internment camps after Pearl Harbor was attacked and leave their farm unattended. Ivy’s father wants to help, and sees it could be a good opportunity for his family, but there are some who would like to ransack the Yamamoto’s house while they are away. Will the family be safe there? All the stories are folded together in the last section’s satisfying conclusion; it is a long read, but such a hard one to put down once you have started.

If you enjoy historical fiction books you might also like: Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan, Jefferson’s Sons, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, or Rodzina, by Karen Cushman.

Proxy

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

proxyby Alex London, 379 pages, Grades 8 and up

Syd is a proxy which is basically a futuristic whipping boy. Any time his patron makes a mistake or does something illegal he gets punished. The punishment is brutal; Guardians use a nerve weapon that causes pain throughout your body. In this future society patrons have all the wealth and power and the poor often have to go into debt to survive thus becoming proxies. Some proxies have decent patrons; they are mostly law abiding citizens, but Syd’s patron is prone to getting himself in trouble and Syd has suffered the consequences his entire life. When one of his patron’s antics adds years to Syd’s debt, he decides he has to escape, but he is only one guy against an entire world.

 

If you enjoy dystopian adventures, you might also like: Hunger Games, by Collins, Shipbreaker, by Bacigalupi, Mazerunner, by Dashner, or The Testing, by Charbonneau.

The Clockwork Scarab

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

17084242by Colleen Gleason, 350 pages, Grades 7 and up

 

Sherlock Holmes’ niece, Mina and Bram Stoker’s (author of the novel Dracula) sister Evaline are cajoled into allying to uncover the mystery behind the death of young upper-class ladies in London.  Mina is a methodical detective, brilliant like her uncle, and calculating. Evaline comes from a family of vampire slayers; she is a tenacious fighter trained in various martial arts as well as an expert wielder of weaponry. The two have distinctly different approaches to crime fighting and have some trouble understanding each other, but they may come to find out that each one has something to offer that the other one desperately needs because this is a case of a lifetime.

 

If you like good detective stories or take-offs on Sherlock Holmes mysteries you might also like: Death Cloud, by Andy Lane, The Screaming Staircase or The Whispering Skull, by Jonathan Stroud.

The Accidental Highwayman: being the tale of Kit Bristol, his horse Midnight, a mysterious princess, and sundry magical persons besides

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

20519011by Ben Tripp, 303 pages, Grades 6 and up

 

Kit  Bristol is a gentleman’s assistant, or so he thinks. When his master is mortally wounded Kit learns that he is a highwayman, a robber in 18th century England, and a notorious one at that name of Whistling Jack. Kit’s first mistake is borrowing his master’s coat when he tries to sneak off to get help for the suffering man. Instead of finding help, Kit is mistaken for Whistling Jack and ends up saddled with his debt. Whistling Jack owes the magical kingdom something and now Kit is bound to taking up the task; he won’t have his life back until he completes the quest Whistling Jack had only just begun. Will he survive the treacherous adventure and please the fairy Whistling Jack had promised to help or is there some other way out of his predicament?

 

If you enjoy fantasy adventure stories you might also like: Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher or W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assasin, by Eoin Colfer.

 

Sparkers

Friday, January 9th, 2015

A1zxt5y5zxLby Eleanor Glewwe, 323 pages, Grades 5-8

 

Marah is on a race against time to find a cure for the dreaded Dark Eyes Disease; her brother and best friend are already sick. Unfortunately, Marah is a Sparker, the lowest class in her society, and even though she is extremely smart she will never be allowed to study or become as successful as anyone in the magician class. A chance encounter with a magician girl ends up providing her a partner in her quest for a cure; the little magician girl’s older brother is on a mission to find a cure as well. The two unlikely allies find themselves up against government officials, family members, the difficult translation of ancient texts and the general lack of information of their society’s past as they struggle for an answer. Will they make it in time to save the people they love?

 

If you like fantasy books that feel a little like historical fiction you might also enjoy: Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, or Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman.

The Fourteenth Goldfish

Monday, January 5th, 2015

fourteenthgoldfishby Jennifer L. Holm, 195 pages, Grades 5-7

 

Life does not go on forever normally, though it seems like Ellie’s goldfish is hanging on a lot longer than her friends’ goldfishes. Her grandfather also has an aging problem; he has become an adolescent boy again. It is pretty weird watching a pimply 7th grader bossing around her mom, but it is kind of nice to have someone around to talk to about science. Melvin, Ellie’s grandfather, is a scientist. He is mostly concerned with retrieving his research from his office; he cannot very well waltz into the lab as a 13-year-old boy without arousing suspicion.

 

Click here to see if the book is available.

 

If you like science fiction with a little humor, you might also enjoy: Boom, by Mark Haddon or The Doom Machine, by Mark Teague. If you enjoy books about friendships between the young and old you might also enjoy: Curveball:The Year I Lost My Grip, by Jordan Sonnenblick, or The Cardturner, by Louis Sacher

The Glass Sentence

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

glass-sentenceby S. Grove, 489 pages, Grades 6 and up.

 

Sophia is growing up in a very different world than you can read about in our history books. About 100 years ago in her world there was something called The Great Disruption which was a bit like a time earthquake; it shook the whole world and left its continents in different eras. Dinosaurs roam some parts of the earth, some parts are living in the Middle Ages, and some are living in a futuristic time; Sophia lives with her uncle, a cartographer, in New Occident where it is 1891. Sophia’s parents are explorers and have been out-of-touch for a long time. Sophia is anxious to learn about the new world in the hopes that she might find them. She has just begun to learn about cartography from her uncle, Shadrack, when he is kidnapped. Sophia begins an adventure; she has to escape those who kidnapped her uncle, try to find her parents, and possibly stop the destruction of the world they are just coming to know. Has she learned enough to be up to such a task?

 

Click here to see if this book is available.

 

If you like adventure fantasy stories, you might also enjoy Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, or Sabriel by Garth Nix, or Stardust, by Neil Gaiman.

West of the Moon

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

westofthemoonby Margi Preus, 213 pages, Grades 5-8

 

Astri and her sister are waiting for their father to send for them. They live in Norway and he has gone to America leaving them with their terrible relatives. These relatives are so terrible that they sell Astri to a cruel goat farmer where she is expected to work from dawn until dusk. Astri is strong and brave, though, and she decides to make a plan to escape the evil goat man, rescue her sister and go to America to find their father. Of course, nothing is as easy as she hoped: knife wielding farmer, treaturous mountains, mysterious spinning girl and trolls make the journey a harrowing adventure.

 

If you enjoy fantasy reads that draw from folk and fairy tales you might also like Cinder, by Marissa Meyer or Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine.

 

Click here to see if the book is available.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

Monday, November 24th, 2014

opheliaby Karen Foxlee, 228 pages, Grades 5-7

 

While wandering around alone, Ophelia hears something beyond a locked door in a remote room of the castle museum.  When she looks in the keyhole she sees there is a boy within. The boy is personable but sad; his purpose, he says, was to save the world, but he has not been able to accomplish it locked away as he is. Ophelia decides to help him and must overcome a series of harrowing adventures within the castle museum to do so. All the while her father and sister seem to be losing themselves to the museum’s caretaker who gives Ophelia the shivers. Suddenly the race to save the boy becomes a race to save her family as well. Can Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy destroy evil in time?

 

If you enjoy magical fantasies with a bit of creep-factor you might also like The Graveyard Book or The Ocean at the End of the Lane, both by Neil Gaiman, or for something even more creepy try Sabriel, by Garth Nix.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

Dreamwood

Monday, November 24th, 2014

DREAMWOOD-coverby Heather Mackey, 328 pages, Grades 5-8

 

Lucy’s father, a once renowned ghost hunter, is a laughing stock.  People think he is a bit crazy, so when he hasn’t contacted Lucy for a while no one is worried but her. Lucy knows her father is a good scientist despite what people say, so she decides to leave her school and go after him. When she arrives in the Northwest where he has been doing his research she hears that he has gone after “dreamwood” and hasn’t been heard from since. Lucy begins an adventure of her own in which she meets native people, timber barons and others and is not sure who to trust. The tree plague is worrying everyone; it could be the end of trees on earth.  Everyone seems to be after a cure, as was her father, but some may have more devious motives than others. Will Lucy be able to save her father or find a cure for the tree sickness? Lost in the woods without food or water Lucy wonders if she can even make it out alive herself.

 

Other fantasy stories that you might enjoy include: The Mark of the Dragonfly, by Jaleigh Johnson, or The Great Unexpected, by Sharon Creech.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

The Whispering Skull

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

skullby Jonathan Stroud, 435 pages, Grades 6-8

Lockwood and Co. face new ghosts and other mysteries in this sequel to The Screaming Staircase. You can read these mysteries in any order, but should know the main premise: Lockwood and Co. is a team of three paranormal investigators. The world since the Problem began is a dangerous place to roam around at night. Ghosts are everywhere and those who cannot see them or hear them are in danger of terrifying haunting, injury or even death from “ghost touch.” No adults can see the ghosts so children and young adults are relied upon to put these roaming souls to rest so that people can live in peace. Lockwood and Co. is a small team of teens competing for jobs with giant investigative firms in London; George is their researcher, Anthony Lockwood has great sight, and Lucy is gifted at hearing the dead. In fact, she is starting to wonder if this “gift” of hers might be driving her mad when an ancient skull starts talking directly to her; can she trust the ghost or is he trying to trick her into becoming just like him?

The first book in this series is The Screaming Staircase, also by Stroud and a fantastic read as well. If you like creepy ghost stories you might also enjoy Break My Heart 1000 Times, by Daniel Waters.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

51xgGEKd6oL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_by Ransom Riggs, 382 pages, Grades 8 and up.

CYRM NOMINEE 2015

Jacob’s grandfather has been through a lot; he survived war and the holocaust, he raised and supported a family, but now he seems to be losing his mind just a little which is making Jacob very sad. Jacob loves his grandfather and especially loved all the stories he told, fanciful stories full of magical children with peculiar abilities. One child has bees living in his stomach, another has to wear shoes with weights because otherwise she will spontaneously float up to the ceiling, and another is completely invisible. Of course, as he grew older, the stories seemed silly to him, but when his grandfather tells him to go find Miss Peregrine Jacob begins to believe there might have been more truth to his grandpa’s stories than he thought possible.

If you enjoy fantasy books with unusual characters you might also like: Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, or Eragon, by Christopher Paolini.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

A Dark Inheritance

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

dark inheritanceby Chris d’Lacey, 291 pages, Grades 6-8

On the way to school one morning Michael is looking out the car window and worrying about his father, who has been missing for some time. The traffic is stopped and Michael notices a dog off leash running around very close to the edge of a cliff; before he knows it he is saving the dog. The strange thing is, no one remembers him running out of the car or anything really before he is there with the scared pup. He is a bit of a hero which would have been life changing for some, but other things about his life changed in that instant as well and Michael knows there is something weird or supernatural going. Amadeus Kimt understands something extraordinary happened that day as well; in fact, he finds Michael and offers to help find his father too if he does Klimt a favor first, but is Kimt someone he can trust?

If you enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle or Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer then A Dark Inhertance should be a good fit as well.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

The Mark of the Dragonfly

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

the mark of the dragonflyby Jaleigh Johnson 388 pages, Grades 6-8

Piper is a scrapper. She knows how to live with very little and she makes her living by trading things left behind after the meteor showers for things that she needs to survive. It is a hard life, especially since she has to go it alone; her mother died long ago and her father was killed while trying to earn some money working in a factory in the capital city. Things might seem hopeless, but Piper has dreams for her future. She can fix almost anything she gets her hands on, and she hopes to one day move to a big city and make a living as a mechanic. Piper’s hope is that something she collects in a meteor storm will be her ticket out of town, but she never expected it to be a young girl marked with the Dragonfly tattoo of the king! It turns out that the girl is being chased by an evil man, and Piper cannot resist helping her.  When they board the train for the capital Piper thinks they are home free, but it is only the beginning.

If you enjoy fantasy adventure stories, you might also like: The Apothecary, by Maile Meloy, or Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. If you like adventures that take place on trains you might also like The Boundless, by Kenneth Oppel, or Railsea, by China Mieville.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

The Boundless

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

17846771by Kenneth Oppel, 332 pages, Grades 6-8

Will’s father started his career as a brakeman, but when he saves the owner of the greatest railroad in the country from an avalanche he moves on to bigger things. When Will was young they barely had enough to eat, but now on the first voyage of the Boundless, the biggest train ever to cross the country, he is traveling in first class, at least until someone tries to kill him. Will manages to barely escape with his life but finds himself at the back of the train. He has to overcome a series of obstacles and life-threatening adventures while attempting to return to his father at the front of the train. Chased by murderous brakemen, pulled into a circus car by an elephant, grabbed by a sasquatch, disguised as an indian circus performer Will makes his way up the train with the help of his wire-walking friend, Meran, but can they make it in time to save his father and keep the Boundless on the track?

If you like adventure stories you might try other titles by Kenneth Oppel such as Airborn and Silverwing.  If you like action adventures with trains you might also enjoy Railsea, by China Mieville.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

smoke&boneby Lanini Taylor, 418 pages, Grades 8 and up / YA

CYRM NOMINEE 2014

Karou is an art student in Prague. Her friends think her notebook is full of fantastic creatures she imagines, but in reality she is drawing the creatures who brought her up. She was raised and still works in an in-between place, a place between the human world and a magical world of chimera. Brimstone, one of the chimera who raised her, sends her on errands, deliveries mostly, in faraway lands. Sometimes the errands are dangerous, but Karou is tough, she has been trained in martial arts, so she can take care of herself pretty effectively. When the serafin return, though, everything changes. They chase her and almost kill her in Marrakesh and then mysterious burning handprints appear on doors throughout the city. Suddenly she loses contact with her chimera family and is trapped in the human world. Are they hurt? Do they need her? Will the serafin come for her as well? Who is she and where does she fit in the two worlds she seems to be part of?

If you like rich fantasy adventure stories you might also enjoy Sabriel, by Gath Nix, or Graceling, by Kristin Cashore.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

Cinder

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Cinder_Coverby Marissa Meyer, 390 pages, Grades 7 and up

CYRM NOMINEE 2015

Cyborgs are second class citizens; technology is sophisticated enough to provide people with prosthetic limbs stronger than the limbs they lost, or eyes that do more than just see, but anyone who has to repair themselves this way is shunned and thought of as less than human. Cinder, who is a 67% cyborg, was adopted by a kind man, but his wife and daughters were not so understanding of her “deformities.” When he dies her life at home becomes almost unbearable. Luckily she is a talented mechanic and spends most of her time with her android friend at her shop in downtown New Beijing. She is counting the days until she will be able to leave home for good, when who should waltz into her shop but the prince himself, disguised, of course. This chance meeting changes the course of her life and begins a great adventure full of space travel, chivalrous fighting, high tech geeks, aliens, and Cyborgs, of course.

If you enjoy science fiction adventure you might also like The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, Divergent, by Veronica Roth, or Legend, by Marie Lu.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

Ocean at the End of the Lane

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

ocean-at-end-of-lane-gaimanby Neil Gaiman, 250 pages, written for adults

When he returns to the lane where he grew up he recalls his childhood and the time he spent with the family at the end of the lane. As a boy his life was full of magic and danger, and adventures he barely survived; recalling those days explain why he feels the need to return to the ocean at the end of the lane. This is a modern fairy tale, and a magical adventure spun carefully to draw you in and keep you on the edge of your seat.

This is a hard book to compare to any others, but if you enjoy fantasy, you might also like Incarceron, by Catherine, Sabriel by Garth Nix, or Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

Freakling

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

freaklingby Lana Krumwiede, 309 pages, Grades 5-7

Taemon lives in Deliverance in a telekinetic community. Future humans have developed an additional sense, so to speak; they have evolved to do everything with their minds. Their food seems to jump into their mouths, their clothes fasten themselves, and dishes seem to clean themselves on the other side of the room, but this is not magic, it is accomplished with psy, an energy source people of the future have learned to harness. Some knowledge of the past has been lost or hidden when psy became a human skill in order to protect people; for example, if you understand how the heart works and you had evil motives you might be able to stop someone’s heart with your psy. All books and knowledge about the human body and how it works is closely guarded. Because psy is such a potentially dangerous power, anyone with variations of psy are outcasts; Taemon has the ability to “mind wander” and his parents are worried people will find out, including his older brother, but, of course, “mind wandering” is so natural to Taemon it is hard to keep it a secret. His special psy could be his downfall, but it might also be the community’s only hope.

If you enjoy dystopian fantasies, you might also like:  Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi or Maze Runner, by James Dashner.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

The Hypnotists

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

hypnotistsby Gordon Korman,  232 pages, Grades 6-8

Jackson Opus thinks he is a normal, albeit persuasive, twelve-year-old, but little does he know he is the descendant of two of the most famous hypnotists of all time. When the Sentia Institute shows interest in him, he begins to understand the power and scope of hypnotism in the world around him. But is it ok to use this power to control world events, or even people’s decisions? Jackson is learning how to control his gift, struggling with the ethics of hypnotism, and trying to escape the evil hypnotists who want to control him all at the same time. He really would prefer to return to the life of a normal kid, but when you have a gift like Jackson’s you have to grow up in a hurry.

Gordon Korman writes a lot of great books.  Comedies:  No More Dead Dogs, The Chicken Doesn’t Skate, Ungifted.  Adventures: Dive, Island, and Everest series. Mystery: Swindle series.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase

Monday, December 9th, 2013

screaming staircaseby Jonathan Stroud, 390 pages, Grades 6-9

London is crawling with ghosts and they are not friendly; they are, in fact, dangerous. Many people died because they were “ghost touched” until they discovered that adolescents and teens have a special ghost sensory ability that makes them particularly able when it comes to investigating hauntings.  Lucy Carlyle is one of these talented young people and she finds a job with Lockwood and Co., a private agency responsible for ghost eradication – a bit like the Sherlock Holmes agency for ghosts and hauntings. Of course, people who haunt generally have troubled pasts, so often Lockwood and Co. are not only extinguishing ghosts, but they are also uncovering murderers, which is a dangerous occupation indeed.

If you enjoy ghost stories you might also like Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters, or if you enjoy a good mystery you might also like Death Cloud, by Andy Lane a young Sherlock Holmes story.

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Seraphina

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

seraphinaby Rachel Hartman, 499 pages, Grades 7 and up

Seraphina is born into a medieval world where dragons and humans have learned to live in peace following years of war. Dragons magical powers allow them to transform into Sars, dragons in human form.  These Sars live in the human world as ambassadors; they help maintain the peace and teach humans their advanced technology. They are also there to learn about human behavior, but they are not to become emotionally affected or invested in any way. Of course, much of human strength comes from our ability to love one another, and even though Sars are supposed to stay away from human emotion that is sometimes impossible, and Seraphina’s very existence is proof of just that.

If you enjoy fantasies about dragons you might also like:  Dragonrider by Cornelia Funke, or Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede.  If you like fantasy books with strong female protagonists you might also enjoy Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, or Sabriel, by Garth Nix.

 

The Bad Beginning

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

badbeginningby Lemony Snicket, 162 pages, Grades 6-8

*Student Review*

If you enjoy reading books with happy endings, or happy beginnings, or even a few happy bits in the middle, this is not the book for you. I'm sure there are plenty of books out there about cheerful little elves surrounded by unicorns and rainbows that you could read. This book, however, I am sad to report, is a very unpleasant story wrought with misfortune and despair, a word here meaning "extreme sadness" or "depression". This book details the struggles of the Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, an inventor, a reader, and a biter. We follow them on their journey through many unfortunate events as they try to escape Count Olaf's devious, a word here meaning "mischievous" or "evil", schemes. In this book, you will encounter a repulsive villain, a disastrous fire, spaghetti, itchy clothes, a troupe of actors, and a plot to steal a fortune.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket is one of my favorite books, and the Series of Unfortunate Events series gets better and better as you read on. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good, quick, read. Lemony Snicket never ceases to amaze, and this book is the start of an amazing series.

mt

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Railsea

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

by China Mieville, 424 pages, adult fiction, but great for adolescents

Railsea is a dystopian future society where the earth is covered in rails; there are islands of rubble scattered around the earth’s surface between the rails where people have built up towns, but any actual earth is uninhabitable.  Underground creatures have grown to gigantic size and anyone walking upon the natural ground is in danger of being swallowed up by huge moles, or giant insects.  The rails are home to a lot of different occupations: there are traders, thrill seekers, soldiers, and pirates, but Railsea’s central character, Sham, is a medic in training on a Moler vessel. The Molers are on a quest to finish off the mole that stole the captain’s arm, but Sham may have another destiny in his future adventures on the Railsea.

If you enjoy dystopian adventures you might also enjoy Maze Runner, by James Dashner,  Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi or Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

Break My Heart 1,000 Times

Friday, March 29th, 2013

by Daniel Waters, 342 pages, Grades 7 and up

 

In Veronica’s world there are ghosts among the living.  Since “the Event” people from the past inhabit the world of the living; they look like solid people for the moments they visit, but then they fade away kind of like a short hologram of the person playing the same piece of film over and over.  Veronica’s dad sits at the breakfast table every day and Mary, a teenage girl who was murdered, climbs the front steps of a neighbor every morning as Veronica is walking to school. You get used to it, until it feels like the dead might actually be able to affect the living.  Kirk and Veronica have been asked to research the local ghosts by one of their teachers, and this sometimes means visiting the places where people have died – ghosts often appear to replay their death scene.  Just that seems creepy enough, but Veronica and Kirk might  be stumbling into the path of a murderer unprepared.  

 

If you enjoy suspenseful books you might also like Girl Stolen, by April Henry, or if you like ghost stories you might like Ghosts of the Titanic, by Julie Lawson.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

 

The Great Unexpected

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

great unexpectedby Sharon Creech, 226 pages, Grades 6-7

Naomi and Lizzie are two orphan girls living in a small American town with many albeit distant connections to Ireland.  One day boy called Finn falls out of a tree practically onto Naomi’s head, and this begins the magical mystery.  Who is “this Finn boy” and who is the Dingle Dangle man who has been seen around town, and what do they have to do with the orphan girls?   The girls’ story is told alternating with a tale of others who live across the ocean in the old country, and, of course, they are somehow all connected.  

The Great Unexpected reads like a modern Irish fairy tale; if you enjoy fairy tales, or realistic fantasy you might also like:  A Dog For Life, by L.S. Matthews or My Name is Mina and I Love the Night, by David Almond.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Incarceron

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

incarceronby Catherine Fisher, 442 pages, Grades 7 and up.

Claudia is living a nobel life, like a princess in a castle, but to her home feels like a prison.  

Finn’s home really is a prison, but a prison like no other.  This place is so vast it feels like a kingdom full of villages, and cities, forests, and swamps, beggars, thieves and people with power and influence; this is Incarceron.  The place itself seems to have a mind of its own, it shifts and transforms itself to make life difficult for its inmates; escape feels so impossible that most are making the best of their life within the walls.  

Finn is new to Incarceron; most believe he was born there, but he has glimpses of another life, another place, that make him wonder, and so he seeks to escape this dark metalic world.

A crystal key brings Claudia and Finn together, but the prison does not give up its people easily, even if it is to the warden’s daughter.

If you enjoy books about dystopian future world, or fantasy kingdoms, you might also enjoy:  Maze Runner, by James Dashner, or Graceling, by Kristin Cashore.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Beautiful Creatures

Monday, September 17th, 2012

beautiful creaturesby Kami Garcia, 563 pages, Grades 7 and up

CYRM NOMINEE 2012

Everything always stays the same in Gaitlin County, so when new girl – and not just any new girl, but someone really dark and different – comes to school, Ethan notices.  Of course, there is also the fact that she has been in his dreams all summer, and that he can hear her voice in his head, even when they are not in the same room.  

Turns out the new girl, Lena, is not just different, she is a caster; people in her family all have extraordinary talents like the ability to change the weather, or spy on people through the eyes of your dog.  In the south, the worlds of darkness and light have always lived closely together, but it is not something the good people of Gaitlin County talk about aloud.  Until the day that one of their people (Ethan) befriends one of the people of the night (Lena).  These two worlds are about to collide and Ethan and Lena are right in the middle of it.

 

If you enjoy stories about other worlds, or enchanted love stories or ghost stories, you might also like Everlost, by Neal Shusterman, or Beastly, by Alex Flinn, or A Greyhound of a Girl, by Roddy Doyle.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Half Brother

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

half brotherby Kenneth Oppel, 375 pages, Grades 7-11

Ben had always hoped for a sibling, but he never expected that his parents would adopt a little brother like Zan.  His father is a behavioral psychologist who has transplanted the family to Canada to study chimpanzees, so it wasn’t so unexpected that his parents would bring a chimp into their home.  But, in 1973 on Ben’s thirteenth birthday they surprise him with “a little brother.” Zan is a chimpanzee that they expect Ben to treat like a sibling.  It is all part of his father’s study, but it soon becomes difficult to distinguish experiment from genuine feelings, and the thing is what is cute when the chimp is a baby might be a real problem when Zan is stronger than everyone he lives with.

If you enjoy speculative fiction, you might also like Airborn, also by Kenneth Oppel, or Crunch by Leslie Connor, or A Dog For Life, by L.S. Matthews; these books have a realistic feel, but a fantasy twist.

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

Wildwood

Friday, January 6th, 2012

wildwoodby Colin Meloy, 545 pages, Grades 4-7

CYRM NOMINEE 2015

Student Review

        Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary until a murder of crows kidnaps her baby brother Mac. They take him into a place called “Impassable Wilderness.” This place is a big green area labeled “I.W” on every map of Portland, Oregon. Prue and her friend Curtis have to venture into this wilderness from which no one has ever returned alive. They travel through forests finding not only warring creatures,  and menacing figures, but friendship, as they struggle for the freedom from this wilderness. Prue and Curtis uncover a whole new secret world hidden within the trees; a wilderness called Wildwood. From talking coyotes and birds to bandit camps and an evil governess, Wildwood is packed with mysteries. Can they save Prue’s brother and get out alive? You’ll have to find out.  MC

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

 

Airman

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

airman_book_coverby Eoin Colfer,   412 pages,   Grades 7-8

Conor Broekhart was born in the air.  His parents took a ride in a hot air balloon at the 1878 Paris World’s Fair, and that is the moment Conor decided to arrive.  It is no wonder he is determined to fly; he is a brilliant engineer from very young and is lucky enough to work with another brilliant man, Victor Vigny, advisor to the king.  The king’s daughter admires Conor’s talent as well, and all seems to be perfect for the Broekhart family.

Unfortunately, his life takes a dramatic turn.  The good king has placed his trust in the wrong man; one of his confidants, Marshall Bonvilain, kills the king and frames Conor for the murder!  Conor is thrown into a high security prison on an island, and his parents believe him to be dead.  He is subjected a brutal life in the prison, but also makes some allies that help him attempt to save the kingdom, and his family as well as seek revenge on the evil Bonvilain.

Connections:  If you enjoy steam punk fiction, you might also like: Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, or Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas is the first novel about a man being mistakenly imprisoned and escaping to seek his revenge.

 

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

The Poison Diaries

Friday, June 3rd, 2011
poison diariesby Maryrose Wood,    278 pages,   Grades 7 and up. Even Jesamine, who is the daughter of the apothecary and a skilled gardener,  is not allowed beyond the locked gate of the poison garden. Jesamine lives with her father, who heals the sick in and around London, in a country house in the mid 1800s.

One day the man in charge of the local home for the insane delivers a mysterious young man he calls Weed to their doorstep.  Jesamine’s father agrees to take him in even though he seems dangerous; he might be to blame for curing those in the asylum, and creating an epidemic of insanity in town.

The arrival of Weed reveals things to Jesamine that she has not realized about herself, about her father, and about the nature of poisons. Her life will never be the same.

If you like romance, mystery and fantasy you might also like Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, or Matched by Allie Condie.

 

The Memory Bank

Friday, May 27th, 2011

memory_bankby Carolyn Coman 263 pages  Grades 6-8

Hope watches her sister get smaller and smaller as her parents drive their car away.  “Forget her!” they tell Hope, but she loves Honey, how can her parents abandon her on the side of the road. The Memory Bank is told in two ways from two points of view.  Honey is quickly picked up and handed a lollipop by a smiling lady and a bunch of laughing kids; her story is told in pictures, while Hope’s is described in words.

 

Hope cannot forget her sister, of course, and ends up being investigated by the World Wide Memory Bank for delinquent memory creation; instead of creating new memories, all Hope can do is think about her sister.  Maybe the bank will hold the key to finding her.

The authors  flash back and forth between these two adventures until they come together for a smashing finish.

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

If you like graphic novels you might also enjoy: Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch, or The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures, by  Brian Selznick

 

The Maze Runner

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

The_Maze_Runner_coverby James Dashner        374 pages,  Grades 6-10

Tom wakes up in a box without windows or doors.  He fumbles around and cannot find a way out until the top opens up and beyond the glare of the bright light he hears kids voices.
“Look at that shank.”
“How old is he?”
“Looks like a klunk in a T-shirt.” (p.3)
Tom cannot remember who he is or where he came from, but he is pulled up into the Glade by a bunch of other teenage boys. All the kids there arrived in about the same state: confused, some sense of the way things work, but no clear memories of the details of their lives before the dark box that delivered them. The Glade is a bit like a working farm and a bit like a prison.  Each of the teens has a job to keep the place functioning:  cook, farmer, slopper, runner, etc., but there is no way out. They all believe their one hope to get home is to decipher the maze that surrounds the Glade, but the maze changes shape every night, and there are frightening things that roam its halls.

Connections: Those who enjoyed Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins or Unwind, by Neal Shusterman will like the Maze Runner too!

Matched

Friday, March 25th, 2011

matched_book_coverby Ally Condie,    366 pages, Grades 7 and up

CYRM NOMINEE 2012

In a future world where no one has to fear disease, malnutrition, crime, or other problems of past cultures, people trust The Society to make the best decisions about everything: the food you should be eating, the clothes you wear and even who is best suited to be your partner for life.

Cassia has reached the age of her matching, and at the ceremony while others are paired with people from other cities far away Cassia is surprised and grateful to find her match is Xander, her best friend from childhood.  She leaves the ceremony feeling confident this is her ideal mate, but when she uses the computer to find out more about her match the face of another boy she knows flashes on the screen!

This little “mistake” opens Cassia’s eyes to the possibility that The Society might not really be as perfect as she has been brought up to believe; could this doubt put everyone she knows in danger?  And, who is her real match?

If you enjoy dystopian fantasy, fiction that takes place in a future that is the opposite of an ideal world,  you might also like: Unwind by Neal Shusterman, or Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Crossed, the sequel to Matched will come out in 2011.

Leviathan

Monday, February 7th, 2011

leviathan2By Scott Westerfeld, 44o pages,  Grades 7 and up

Westerfeld has created an alternative history of  World War I and filled it with Clanker and Darwinist war machines.The Clankers use mechanical transports that remind readers of the Empire’s AT-AT walkers in Star Wars while the Darwinists use flying machines that live, breathe and eat.In fact, one of their greatest living machines called Leviathan is really an entire ecosystem; whale DNA, bat, and bird all mixed together to create a huge flying zeppelin manned by the military.Daryn, a girl disguised as a young soldier, joins the Darwinist army and is aboard the Leviathan when the war begins.Alek, the Austrian prince, escapes his country after his parents’ assassination in a Clanker contraption.A near fatal crash, and a famous scientist seeking to save her precious cargo bring Daryn and Alek’s worlds and missions together in the chaos of the beginning of an alternate first World War.

This book’s sequel Behemouth has recently arrived and promises to be another thrilling adventure.  Another exciting adventure including a zeppelin and an alternative past is called: Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel.Oppel’s story is less of war and more like an adventure on the high seas with pirates and mysterious creatures.

Across the Nightingale Floor: Tales of the Otori (Book One)

Friday, September 24th, 2010

nightingale floorBy Lian Hearn, p. 305 – adult fiction

Takeo has never known his father, who died many years before, and he has been growing up in a remote and peaceful Japanese village surrounded by the rest of his loving family.  The rest of Japan is not so;  it is a time of warlords, and secret societies in the middle ages, and Takeo’s home is attacked and destroyed by a warlord named Iida who is threatening to take over the whole country.  When Takeo returns from a walk in the woods and  sees his village burning, something inside him takes over.  He scares the warlord’s horse and causes Iida to fall to the ground.  Understanding his fatal blunder, he runs back into the woods chased by the warlord’s soldiers.  They all run into a man on horseback who fights for Takeo, cutting off the arm of one of Iida’s best warriors.  This mysterious man turns out to be a lord of the Otori clan, another of the powerful families of Japan.

Takeo’s life changes completely from this day forward.  He is adopted by the Otori and  he discovers his father was a famous assassin.  He also finds out his real heritage is the Tribe, a kind of secret ninja society; he possesses some of the Tribe’s extraordinary abilities.  He can hear details across a crowded courtyard, or through a wooden door, he can make himself “go invisible” and become as silent as a ghost.

In these turbulent times, talents like these are desired by many, and Takeo finds himself pulled in different directions, but he is determined to complete the final task for his adopted father:  kill Iida, the same  lord who burned his village and killed his family.  The trouble is the only way to reach the warlord in his palace is to cross the nightingale floor, a huge room covered in a floor that sings whenever anyone touches it.  How can he  cross the nightingale floor and avenge his family?

Connections: For other stories taking place in medieval Japan try The Samurai’s Tale, by Erik Christian Haugaard, or The Sword that Cut the Burning Grass: A Samurai Mystery, by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler.

The Alchemyst

Friday, September 24th, 2010

the-alchemyst-book-coverBy Michael Scott – p. 375  – Grade 6-9 – fantasy

Michael Scott is a professor of mythology and was inspired by the TRUE  story of Nicholas Flamel.  He was actually a real person!  He was born in Paris on September 28, 1330, and buried 1418, but the tomb is empty! Thus begins the myth, or history, of the alchemyst, Nicholas Flamel, immortal and still alive in today?

The Alchemyst begins in modern day New York City; teenage twins Sophie and Josh have moved there  for the summer.   The brother works in a bookstore  for Nick Flemming (name sound familiar?) and the sister works at a cafe across the street.  Right away the bookstore is blown up by mud people and a menacing character named Dr. John Dee.  When Dee and his muddy henchmen storm into the bookstore, Josh is watching from a hiding place.  Dee grabs Flamel’s wife, Perry, and almost makes off with the most powerful book of magic, but Josh manages to grab a few key pages before he and Mr. Flemming have to escape the explosion.   Flamel believes Josh and Sophie might be the twins of the prophecy, so he wants to keep them close in the hopes of finding his precious wife and the stopping Dee from destroying the world as we know it.   From the moment the bookstore explodes Josh and Sophie are on a roller coaster adventure, full of magical, mythical creatures and frightening beasts.  Sequels The Magician and The Sorceress continue the perilous adventure.

Connections:  Other adventure fantasies The Lightning Thief series, by Rick Riordan, Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, The Alchemist’s Cat, by Robin Jarvis

Salt

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

salt-maurice-gee-book-cover-artBy Maurice Gee, 252 pages  Grades 7-10

When Hari’s father is captured by soldiers from the Company and sent to Deep Salt as punishment, Hari vows to save him even though no one ever returns from these dangerous mines.  Simultaneously, Pearl, the daughter in a high-ranking Company family escapes her arranged marriage by fleeing with her maid, Tealeaf, a mystical Dweller.  Both Hari and Pearl have the ability to communicate telepathically, and they work together to try and save Hari’s father and their world from the dangerous weapon found in the mine.

Connections:  Another fantasy title where the main character is helped by her ability to communicate with animals is Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.  For other mature titles where male and female characters fight to save their community from evil, try reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

The Graveyard Book [print and audio]

Friday, November 20th, 2009

TheGraveyardBook_Hardcover_1218248432by Neil Gaiman, p. 312 – Grades 5-8

“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife,” and so begins the story of orphan, Nobody (Bod) Owens, who has been raised by the inhabitants of the graveyard since the night his family was murdered when he was just 18 months old.  Given the freedom of the graveyard, Bod lives his life in the company of the dead, and finds adventures and dangers within its walls, involving ghouls, the undead and even a human playmate, Scarlet Amber Perkins.  As long as he stays in the graveyard he enjoys many non-earthly freedoms and remains safe from the man Jack who was still looking to kill him, but he longs to learn his story and explore the wide world beyond.

Connections:  For other great fantasy books dealing with the dead, try reading Sabriel by Garth Nix (in print and audio), The Seer of Shadows by Avi, and Ghost Girl by Tonya Hurly.  Watch “The Graveyard Book Video Tour” to see/listen to the author reading the book chapter by chapter while on his national tour.

Beastly

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

beastlyby Alex Flinn.  p. 304  Young Adult

CYRM NOMINEE 2011

Attention Twilight fans!   This compelling romance puts a contemporary spin on the Beauty and the Beast tale.  Popular fourteen-year-old Kyle Kingsbury is incredibly good looking, charming, rich, and really mean.  After playing an especially cruel trick on a homely girl,at a dance, a witch casts a spell on Kyle turning him into a beast–making him as ugly on the outside as he has been on the inside.  He only has two years to break the spell or live as a beast forever.  In order to do so, he must fall in true love with someone who will love him back and give him, of course, a kiss!

Connections:  Here are some other excellent versions of the Beauty and the Beast story:  Beast by Donna Jo Napoli; Rose Daughter and Beauty by Robin McKinley.

The Underneath

Monday, July 20th, 2009

The Underneath by Kathi Appeltby Kathi Appelt    p. 313    Grades 6-8

This amazing book has it all–chills, thrills, tears, fears; strangers and dangers; monsters and heroes; prehistoric and modern times; dogs and cats, love and hate; cruelty and compassion; animals and humans; magic and realism, shape-shifters and kittens; revenge and redemption; loneliness and friendship.  This strange and magical story begins in a Texas bayou  when a calico cat about to have kittens hears the lonely howls of a chained up dog.  She and her kittens take up residence with him underneath the shack where the hound’s cruel master, Gar Face, has chained him.  They are safe until one of the kittens ventures out from the underneath and is caught by Gar-Face.

Connections:  If you like sad animal stories, try these titles: Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, Sounder by William Armstrong, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien, and Watership Down by Richard Adams are other wonderful fantasies where animals form communities to help each other.

Ranger’s Apprentice series

Monday, July 20th, 2009

ranger's 1by John Flanagan   p. 250 (about)  Grades 5-8

If you like fast-paced, exciting adventure series, here’s an excellent one.  In The Ruins of Gorlan, book one of the series, fifteen-year old Will becomes apprenticed to Halt, a senior member of the Rangers, a group of dark-cloaked, mysterious spies whose espionage protects the kingdom.  His training–rigorous, often grueling–prepares Will to face the challenges to the kingdom by Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, including gigantic, ferocious wild boars and the Kalkara, ape-like creatures that use their piercing stares to paralyze their opponents.

Connections:  Here are other fast-paced adventure series:  Maximum Ride by James Patterson, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, and Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz.

 

 

ranger's 3

ranger's 2

Thirteenth Child

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Thirteenth-Childby Patricia C. Wrede, p. 344 – Grades 6 & Up

Eff and her twin brother Lan live in a magical, alternative version of the the western frontier.  Eff is born the thirteenth child, a position that is thought to bring bad luck to the family, while her brother is lucky 14 and the 7th son of the 7th son, a position that brings extraordinary magical power.  The family moves from the civilized and secure east  to the western frontier where a magical border keeps dangerous creatures like the dreaded steam dragons away from the settlements.  Despite her difficulties learning and controlling magic, Eff’s teacher Miss Ochiba teaches her not only Avrupan magic but also the Hijero-Cathayan and Aphrikan styles.  An expedition to the settlements outside the Great Barrier Magic tests her magical skills.

Connection:  For another story that brings a magical alternative to a historical setting, try reading The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer.

Graceling

Monday, May 4th, 2009

graceling__spanby Kristin Cashore, p. 471 – Grades 8 & Up

CYRM NOMINEE 2011

This  award winning first novel by Kristin Cashore will have mature readers begging for a sequel.  The king of Middluns first identified Lady Katsa’s “grace” when she killed a man at age 8, and he has been using her special talent to keep the people of his kingdom and the surrounding six kingdoms in line ever since.  Lady Katsa rebels against the bullying king by secretly forming a council to protect those who have been treated unfairly throughout the seven kingdoms.  The rescue of a neighboring king’s kidnapped father leads Katsa on a quest to find his captor, with the help of his grandson, who has an interesting “grace” of his own.

Connection:  This book might appeal to those who enjoyed the combination of fantasy and romance in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight books or the strong female protagonist in Garth Nix’s Sabriel series.  — CRW

Ghostgirl

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

ghostgirlby Tonya Hurley, p.328 – Grades 7 & Up

It is the first day of her junior year and Charlotte is geared up to shift from ignored wallflower to part of the in-crowd.  When she gets dream-guy Damen as her physics lab partner, she thinks that the stars have finally aligned. As they leave the classroom with Damen asking her to be his tutor, Charlotte chokes on a gummy bear and dies.  Caught in the world between life and eternity, Charlotte and her new Dead Ed. classmates find out that they have some unfinished business before they can really move on.

Connection:  For another book about high school and struggles with popularity try reading, She’s So Money by Cherry Cheva –CRW

Gossamer

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

gossamerby Lois Lowry, p. 140 – Grades 4-7

This is the story of “Littlest One,” a young Giver learning how to bestow dreams.  She is trying to save an 8 year-old boy (a victim of abuse who is currently in foster care) from the nightmares brought on by the Sinisteeds.  The stories of the boy, his foster care mother, and his rehabilitating mother are all told through the gathering of fragments (short memories) collected by touching the objects of a person’s life.  This is a beautiful quiet story that looks at the fallout from child abuse and the challenges of foster care.

Connection:  Another great book by this author is The Willoughbys– a darkly humorous story about two children left with a nanny by their neglectful parents.

Highlight:  Check out this interview with Lois Lowry from Reading Rockets.   –CRW

Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest

Monday, April 27th, 2009

71YrBlUUGRL._SL1052_by Matt Haig, p. 316 – Grades 4-8

Twelve-year-old Samuel and his sister Martha (who has recently become selectively mute)  find themselves living on the edge of a mysterious forest in Norway after the sudden, tragic death of their parents.  Samuel is having trouble adapting to this new strange environment and his quirky aunt’s long list of rules, including the most important – “NEVER – UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES – GO INTO THE FOREST.”  The forest contains dark and dangerous creatures as well as a mystery surrounding the disappearance of Aunt Eda’s husband, Uncle Henrik.  Samuel is forced into unlocking the mysteries of the forest when he has to save his sister, who also inexplicably disappears into it one day.

Connection:  This story might appeal to those readers who enjoy spunky orphan stories like Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events.  –CRW

Masterpiece

Monday, April 27th, 2009

masterpieceby Elise Broach, p.292 – Grades 4-8

Marvin (a beetle and the narrator of the story) lives under the sink in the house in NYC where James lives with his mother,  step-father and baby brother.  Marvin remains hidden with his family until one day he uses ink from James’ new pen and ink set to make the boy a birthday drawing.  Their growing friendship and Marvin’s drawing talent lead the two to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and into a mystery around some missing Albrecht Durer drawings.

Connection:  The talented bug is remniscent of The Cricket in Times Square, and the mystery surrounding the art brings a couple of books to mind: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and  Chasing Vermeer.  –CRW