Saturday, December 29, 2012

So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane

I will admit, this book surprised me by the character development and depth to which the author took the reader.  It was not what I expected.

Nita and Kit are chosen by books which give instructions on how to become a wizard of all things. They take the oath which then takes them onto an adventure filled with learning, decision making, and adventure of the sort you really don't want to have but is fun reading about.

Good versus evil, dark against light, alternative universe, all the ingredients for a page turner.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rowan and the Travelers

Second in a series but you do not have to read the first one to read the second. Geared for the upper elementary crowd, the non-typical hero ends up saving the community through quick thinking and perserverance.
Has some time sequence issues but that does not really hurt the story line for the set of readers it is geared towards.

Spindle's End by Robin McKinley

An alternative telling of Sleeping Beauty with the premise that not all princesses will grow up to love the prince and not all fairies are all knowing. 

Well written, enjoyable, and as always one that gets the reader to thinking of the purpose of fairy tales which was not to entertain small children but to get all people, adults included, to consider morals and choices and how the affect others.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate

Three short novellas within a novel following Luce, Daniel and several of their friends and protectors.  A nice reflection that while the main characters are the focus the other players have an impact on the flow of the story line.

This is a great fill in while we await Rapture.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

Taran dreams of adventure, battles, and glory.  What he finds is hunger, terror, and worry. Despite all of this he pushes through, always trying to do the right thing. 

Searching for Hen Wen, an oracle pig, he partners up with a prince, a king turned bard, Gurgi, a wolf type creature, and the required young lady.

A mixture of fantasy and magic with just enough of a familiar feel to make it all flow. 

There are a couple of places where things just happen and the story jumps around a bit but overall the story is good and Taran is likeable. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Search the Shadows by Barbara Michaels

Haskell discovers she is not the person she always thought after a pre-marital blood test for Tay-Sachs reveals she is a carrier, something that should not be possible if her Irish heritage father, who died before she was born, is actually her father.  She heads to Chicago to search for her biological father and to learn more of Eygptologist mother who died in a tragic car wreck when Haskell was only three months old.

As Haskell searches for answers she learns not only about herself but also family history which is not always bright and joyful.

The ending is unexpected and the entire novel is interesting with many facts about Eygpt past and prestent.

The Illyrian Adventure by Lloyd Alexander

Vesper Holly sees what she wants to do and off she goes.  Pity her guardian, whom she calls Brinnie, who must tag along as the bumbling sidekick. 

A young female Indian Jones type Vesper keeps things rolling along until the end.  Often funny, quick paced, and a great book for the reader that is looking for adventure without to much depth.  I would recommend for the fourth to sixth grade set of readers.

Mark of Athena

A wonderful blending of Greek and Roman mythology with that nice twist that Rick Riordan puts into his novels.  A sense of maturity comes from the main characters, something that has been developing throughout the series but is almost a focus in the current novel.

The changing narrarator keeps things moving along and helps the reader to view the story from multiple perspectives which puts a spin on a couple of incidents. 

My major complaint is we are left once again with a cliffhanger with the next page stating Coming in Ocotober 2013.  This is then followed by a really nice glossary of terms and characters which I had thought was another chapter of pages. 

Just let me know the pre-order date and I will buy in. :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Murder, She Meowed

Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown join forces in a tale of steeplechase excitment, big money, drugs, and old flames in the town of Crozet, Virginia. 

Following a race at Montepelier a jockey is found dead.  A few weeks later another jockey is killed. Then the daughter of a long missing lady is severly injured while racing in Camden from a sabatoged girth. 

As usual Mrs. Murphy, Tee Tucker, and Pewter are in the middle of it all adding insight and humor to the investigation. If only the people would listen to the animals life would be so much smoother.

A nice cozy type mystery which moves along nicely.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Mockingjay is to lead but when there is an unwilling hero problems arise and if a problem can arise Katniss runs slap dap into it.

Katniss struggles with fame, with being less than average, with working, with not working, basically she is messed up and that is what makes it all good.  She makes right decisions, wrong decisions, and at times no decision, they all play a part in the outcome.

Mockingjay is about war and politics on a grand scarl and brings up many moral issues that do not have a clear right or wrong.  I hope I would be more like Peeta but I believe I might be closer to Katniss and sometimes a touch of Gale. 

Many things to consider and it will take weeks for it all to sink in, the hallmark of literature.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Redoubt by Mercedes Lacket

Mercedes Lackey takes us once again into the land of Valdemar. Book Four of the Collegium Chronicles visits with Mags and Dallen showing their growth as a team and Mags development as a much more normal teen who has to face the fears of his previous existance. Readers of the series will remember that Mags was once a mine slave that has a very different take on the world of Companions as compared to most Heraldic trainees.

I found this novel to be a bit dark in the middle but it was appropriate darkness that made for page turning tension. Even for one that is Chosen life is not always clear as to right, wrong, or indifferent.

The ending leaves me thinking we may visit with Mags and Dallen again, I hope that is true.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Tower Treasure

The Tower Treasure, Book One of The Hardy Boys Series by Franklin W. Dixon

Frank and Joe are looking into their friend Chet's stolen car which has clues which lead to a theft of jewels and security bonds. The stakes increase when the father of a friend is accused of the theft and loses his job.

The appeal of this series is an easy reading level with main characters that are seventeen and eighteen. One things can be said, time has proven them to be popular as they are still read on a regular basis.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

If you are reading this you know Catching Fire is the second installment in The Hunger Games so I will not review the details, just my reaction.

Catching Fire will just about catch you on fire.  Difficult to put down, will invade your dreams, thoughts, and conversations.  Well written, poingent, tense, with brief moments of joy which keeps the reader on edge and forces a reluctant closing of the book to regroup after several chapters.

Highly recommend this entire series, it is much more than it at first appears and I am sorry it took me this long to begin reading this talented author.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Arm of the Starfish by Madeline L'Engle

Adam Eddington has worked for an older marine biologist since he began elementary school.  On Old Doc's recomendation he secures a summer job in Gaea working for Dr. O'Keefe a brilliant scientist on the edge of many new discoveries.

A weather related plane delay introduces him to a beautiful girl that warns him of everyone involved with O'Keefe.  The confusion in Adam's mind begins.

The flight to Lisbon is sidetracked to Spain where Adam has problems about his passport. He is rescued by Canon Talis, who just happens to be on his flight with Poly O'Keefe, the young daughter of his employer whom he has yet to met.  After a day of sightseeing Adam is exhausted but gets on the plane to Lisbon and now has in his care Poly.

During the flight she goes to the restroom and never emerges.  Adam is thrown into international subterfuge, confusion, and questioning all that he ever trusted of his instincts.

Written in 1965 it has the feel of the time.  The writing is a bit stilted at times, there is not much dialoge and a lot of self-reflection on the part of Adam.  A few times I had to put the book down simply because Adam was so stupid in his decisions.

Overall it is a good read although not a favorite of what is often a brilliant author.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Nora Gray is dedicated to her school work, has a BFF that is her opposite as quite often they are, and a feeling of dread following her around. It all gets worse when her biology teacher splits her from her friend and assigns a new young man to work with her.

Patch is dangerous, she can tell, but of course like most teenage girls she is drawn to the danger while being repelled from it at the same time.

It gets more interesting as it goes, is she seeing things, going crazy, or already on that train?

Well written, just enough twist and turns to keep the pages turning, and best of all, the first in a series.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rivers West by Louis L'Amour

Jean Talon, a shipwright from Canada, comes upon a dying man on a lonely trail.  As he comorts him as he can he gets just enough information to begin an unplanned journey west. 

A short, quick read with bits of historical facts thrown in for added flavor.  Helpful people always appear, bad guys are obvious, there is a girl but that is not settled until the very last paragraph.  Probably would have been better as a short story as about half the book is a bit contrived.

As always when thinking of the story as a whole it is good, just not well written.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gatekeepers by Robert Liparulo

Book 3 in the Dreamhouse Kings series

Life is a bit fast paced and dramatic for the King family.  In the space of a week they have moved from Los Angeles to northern California, found a house that is a bit creepy and strange, discovered things about the house, and had their mother stolen by a giant of a man.  That would be Book 1.

Book 2 brings a bully, a strange guy causing problems, visits to other times through rooms of the house, searching for their mother, family dynamics drama, and just general mayhem.  You need to know that to understand book 3, they really need to be read in order.

Book 3 still has David as the main character but we learn more about Toria also.  Xander fills the role of big brother very well and makes some good decisions and some that are questionable but that is what being fifteen is about. 

As progress is being made on finding their mother David and Xander go through a portal which takes them to the Civil War where they meet General Grant and it is not a good meeting.  The police come and haul their father off to jail thanks to the resident bad guy. Toria becomes invovled and helps to fight off the beastly men.  Then there is Jesse, just who is he and what role does he play?

The story moves quickly and each chapter has a time stamp which is pretty neat. If it takes you four minutes to read the chapter that is about the amount of time that passes in that chapter.   Just another nice touch by the author.

The story does not end with Gatekeepers, off to search for the next installment.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Unnatural Issue by Mercedes Lackey

Susanna Whitestone is an Elemental Mage, affiliation Earth in fact.  She has been raised by the servants of her father's estate since he vowed never to see her after her mother died giving birth to her.  When he takes a sudden interest in her just before her twenty-first birthday she becomes suspicious of his motives.

Filled with bits of magic, drama, excitment, unrequited love and the beginnings of World War I this novel will keep you turning pages until the exciting end.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Watcher in the Woods by Robert Liparulo

The exciting second book in the Dreamhouse Kings series introduces the reader to "the bad guys", a couple of new worlds, and how having secrets can cause some serious problems with a family.  As the King family searches for their mother and wife more questions arise than answers.  Trying to appear normal to the community layers additional pressure to the family dynamics too.

House of Dark Shadows focused on Xander and his thoughs and feelings. Watcher in the Woods holds David as the central focus.  Seeing the character development of the two boys keeps you reading with interest.

Now the burning question is how will the third book play out?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Commanche of the Seventh by Margaret Leighton

Award winning author Maragret Leighton follows the life of Commanche, the mount of Captain Miles Keogh of Company I.  Some of the writing is conjecture but much is based upon historical fact.  Written in 1957 the writing is of a different style from current trends which is refreshing.  There is also little political correctness which offers an alternative viewpoint. 

Commanche was the only surviving member of the Seventh Calvary that fought at the Battle of Little Big Horn.  What really comes across is that Custer was an ass.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan

Book Three of the Kane Chronicles.

Sadie adn Carter Kane have just a few family issues.  Thier mother is a ghost, their father is now Osiris, the god of the Underworld, Uncle Amos has a very close relationship with Set, a almost bad-guy god, Sadie can and often does channel Isis and Carter can become Horus. 

Oh year, Aphosis wants to destroy the world and Sadie and Carter are destined to be the ones to prevent Chaos from occuring world-wide.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Berenstain Bears on the Job

Through rhymes and pictues the Berenstain Bears take a look at many jobs and options for making a living.  As always an enjoyable read for the younger set.

Who Grew My Soup?

Phineas Quinn refuses to eat his soup until he knows who grew the ingredients in his soup.  He takes a magical journey visiting farms across the United States and learning where his food comes from.  He also takes quite a different view of vegetables by the end.  Written in wonderful rhymes by Tom Darbyshire and fantastic illustrations by C. F. Payne this book is sure to please as much as the Campbell's Soup that Phineas enjoys.

Campbell's Soup Company was generous enough to provide a copy of the book to all of the participants at the National Ag in the Classroom conference in Loveland, Colorado.  Many thanks go out to the company for their support of education.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Clifford and the Big Parade by Norman Bridwell

Clifford, the Big Red Dog attends the celebration of his town's 100th birthday. There are contest, people dressed up like one hundred years ago, food, and even a parade!  Clifford is in the middle of it all and saves the day for the town at the very end.

Published in 1998 but Clifford never gets old.

Franklin in the Dark by Paulette Bourgeois, illustrated by Brenda Clark

Franklin has a problem, he is scared of small, dark places, like his shell.  Even though he tries he just can not crawl inside like a turtle should do, so he drags his shell around behind him.

Franklin finally decides to go out looking for a way to overcome his fear.  He finds there are many animals afraid of what they are expected to be. 

A nice read that would be helpful for a child that has a specific fear.

In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming

Enjoy the excellent artwork as you explore the sights and sounds of what is going on in the tall, tall grass.  The rhyming pattern makes for a fun read and the simple words are great for the child wanting to learn to read themselves.

The Puppy Who Wanted A Boy by Jane Thayer, Illustrated by Lisa McCue

This 1958 classic tale follows a puppy as he searches for a boy. None of the other dogs he meets are willing to give him their boy so he must keep looking until he finds his own.

A short tale from the perspective of a puppy searching for a forever person.  It is also a Reading Rainbow selection.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Can't You Sleep Little Bear

Illustrated by Barbara Firth and written by Martin Waddell this wonderful bedtime story is filled with quiet illustrations and tells the tale of  Little Bear who is having trouble going to sleep because of all of the dark.

Big Bear keeps getting to the best part of his book that he is reading but always stops to take care of Little Bear. 

A great book to read to a child that needs to go to sleep theirself.

Puss In Boots

Johan Patience illustrates this classic tale in a pop-up book format.  This is a favorite tale of trickery organized by a slick cat that wants a life of ease and gets it. :)

Little Wings Duck - childrens book

Written by Paul Flemming and illustrated by John Blackmon this is a quick little tale of a ducklings adventures on a pond.

The best thing about it is the book opens by opening the ducks wings which velcro together. It is also a "hard" book, suitable for toddlers to drag around.

It was a favorite of Reed's when he was little because he did not have to be careful with it. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dragonwings Lawrence Yep

To get the summary of the book you can go to any book site, if you want to know the feeling of the book, keep reading.

I have had this Newberry Honor Book since 2007, pretty sure I bought it at a school book fair.   I finally decide to read it after moving classrooms twice and finally just bringing the books home.   Now I wonder why I took so long to begin.

Excellent, impressive book that will make you smile, make you think, and make you a bit sad.  It is a story of hope, struggle, family, and finding a place.  The struggles of Chinese in California in the early 1900's is something that I had never really thought about, I now want to know more.  The seperation of a family for many, many years I can not imagine but that is exactly what many families did then and still do today in the struggle for a better life.

This is a story written from the viewpoint of a boy who beccomes a man very quickly so even though it is written for children and the teen set it is a story for all ages, as all really good stories are.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The River by Gary Paulsen

A sequel to Hatchet which by the admission of the author was written to fulfill the wishes of fans of Brian Robeson who wanted to know what happened next in his exciting life.

Drama, adventure, danger, everything needed for a quick page turner.  A good book for the young male looking for adventure but beware, they may want to try some of it out themselves, which might do many of them a world of good.

Into the Darkness by Barbara Michaels

Meg comes home to the family estate for the funeral of her beloved grandfather.  She needs to just settle a couple of things and then will be back to her life in New York.

The reading of the will changes everything. In addition to the expected stocks, bonds and money she is also left a half partnership in the jewlery establishment that was her grandfather's pride and joy.  The larger issue is the partner is an unknown quantity that even after three years in a small town has managed to remain a mystery.

Potential stolen jewels. a lawyer overstepping his bounds, an uncle, grandmother, cousin and even the housekeeper in her business and Meg is about to go crazy before she even meets with her new partner.

A bit of romance, an infusion of mystery and just enough romantic comedy to keep things flowing.  A good read that does not require to much concentration.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vanish With the Rose by Barbara Michaels

Diana arrives at the stately home in the middle of a rain storm after rescuing the owners son and his latest dog from an overturned car in a ditch.  The event was foreshadowned, forewarned, de javu ( or however you spell that) or maybe the friendly weird happening would be a better explination.  She is also not what she has presented herself to be so the mystery that begins on page one continues throughout the novel.

Filled with facts of roses and gardening history which makes you want to go out and plant flowers to glorify your own spot of land the story line moves at a quick pace which keeps the reader turning pages deep into the night.  The ending comes as a surprise with a bit of Agatha Christie type ending.

Well written mystery by a prolific author which is nice because there are others that you will also enjoy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Troubletwisters by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Jaide and Jack discover they are a bit unusual when they drop their father's travel bag and grab an iron rod.  The world starts to twist and spin and their house is destroyed in the end.  They do not really understand any of what is going on other than the fact that they are going to live with their grandmonther, which they have never met, in a town they have never heard of. 

A delightful tale of magic and forces beyond the "normal".  Follow the twins as they twist in and out of trouble and fight forces which should be far beyond their emerging abilities.

Book one in a series for the middle school crowd.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Seer of Shadows by Avi

Horace is apprenticed to learn the new art of photography in 1872 New York City.  His master is not a very diligent worker but he does understand the new art of photos and how to sell to his customers.

When the photographer is asked to work with a wealthy lady Horace is forced into using a spy camera to take photos of the deceased daughter's portrait as part of a hoax to create more business.  Even though Horace feels trepidation at being part of a dishonest scam he goes through with his instructions.

He gets the photos that he was ordered to take along with a surprising addition. 

Follow Horace as he and Pegg, the young servant girl who was also a friend of the deceased, as they try to solve the mystery of the photo and how it appeared.

An excellent read, a bit of mystery, the birth of the art of photography and a good dose of paranormal activity to make a great page turner.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

A favorite story of survival and adventure of young adults Hatchet is the type of book that often gets the reluctant reader to become a voracious reader. 

Brian is flying out to see his father in the oil fields when the pilot in the small plane has a heart attack and dies. Brian is lucky enough to make a crash landing in a lake but has gone so far off course that searchers do not find him and the plane has sunk into the lake.

What follows is a summer of hardship, self-knowledge and survival. Brian comes to learn much about himself as he learns how to survive with only a hatchet.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Shattered Silk by Barbara Michaels

Karen is coming out of a bad marriage and agrees to house sit for her aunt and uncle in their Georgetown home while they travel abroad.  Working part time in an antique store gives her motivation to get out of her funk and begin living again. 

After taking on commision designer gowns from her uncle's aunt the door is opened for her to buy vintage clothing from a few other elderly ladies on society.  This is where things get intresting.

Not only does her flame from college come into the picture, so does his sister who becomes a great friend, along with a detective who is drop dead gorgeous.  A co-worker is murdered, the house is broken into multiple times and everything seems to be going to hell in a handbasket.

An exciting conclusion makes Shattered Silk a great read along with the factual flavor of Georgetown and vintage clothing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bliss - Lauren Myracle

1969 is a time of contrast in society.  Hippies live in communes or groups away from, or in the middle of, society. Segregation is ending, Vietnam is on the nightly news right along side the Manson Family trial. 

Bliss, yes that is her name, is sent from her family in Canada, where they live to avoid the draft, to make a new life with her grandmother in Atlanta.  Bliss goes from living in a tent to a home where you dress for supper, even if it is only the two of you.  She also goes from learning by a campfire to an exclusive Atlanta school.  There are a couple of token scholarship students, including one carefully chosen young black man but otherwise all the students are pretty much from the same mold.

There is one little twist, Bliss hears a voice that compels her to find the key to open a locked door in an unused portion of the school buildings.  That opens up a series of events that lead to the conclusion.

Interspaced with the narration by Bliss are diary entries from another source, Andy Griffith Show quotes and transcripts from the Manson Family trial.  The feel of the time is right and brings back many memories for people that lived during this time.

I found it interesting that I remembered the Manson trials, I should have been to young.  It is possible that someone was just talking about it later but I do not believe that is the way it occured.

Great book and I recommend it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Throne of Fire - Rick Riordan

Time to brush up on your Egyptian gods as you follow the Kanes on their latest adventures.  Sure, all teenagers have issues with siblings, parents, grandparents and extended family but when you go to visit your grandparents and they have been taken over by the goddess of vultures and a cohort you know it is not going to be a good birthday.
Fast paced, just enough teenage angst to offer some quality sarcasm and an enjoyable read.  Looking forward to the next installment in the Kane Chronicles.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer is a classic for a reason, people are the same now as they were when the book was written.  One of the better examples of this is the scene during Sunday School when Judge Thatcher arrives.  Peacocks do not preen nearly as much.  Of course Tom is able to preen and receive his Bible and then fail in an epic manner upon being introduced to the esteemed Judge Thatcher.

What was most interesting is even though I am extrememly familiar with the book having read it for the first time in second grade and at least twice a year every year through sixth grade it was new in many ways.  The perspective and live experience of the reader has as much to do with the enjoyment of a book as the skill of the writer.   Earlier reading had Aunt Polly as a foolish old woman.  From the adult perspective the only question is why she had not pinched his head off long ago. 

The inclusion of rules of behavior and superstisions adds richness to the story at many levels.  This has not changed in the lives of boys either, just the superstisions and rules have.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a book well worth reading or rereading as the case may be.