Sunday, December 23, 2007

Hex Education by Gould and Zarren

Gould, Emily and Zarren Jaffrey Hex Education, 182 p. Razorbill (Penguin), 2007. Sophie's parents have dragged her from the twinkling lights of LA to the dark and dank town of her Dad's childhood - Mythic Massachusetts. They have been called back sop that her horror movie-making dad can help rescue the depressed town and turn around its tourist industry. What Sophie doesn't know, however, is that she is the final and most powerful member of this generation's coven; and her powers are needed right now to save the town for possible destruction. Cute, fun and a good little witch story. MS - ADVISABLE

Questors by Joan Lennon - ESSENTIAL

Lennon, Joan Questors, 359 p. McElderry (Simon and Schuster), 2007. 


Three children are taken from the lives they know, thrown together in a strange place and then told that not only are they siblings, but that their destiny is to save all three of their worlds. Thus begins the journey of Madlen, Bryn and Cam, three teens sent across the dimensions to find "something", not even their mentors know what. 

Tight and action-packed, this novel is a perfect piece of fantasy fiction (except for four swear words). Instead of spreading the story out through a trilogy, all three worlds and all three problems are very neatly wrapped up within one fascinating book. The good is just good enough and the bad is just bad and just crazy enough to satisfy the readers. 


Cam's Quest by Dian Regan - ADVISABLE

Regan, Dian Curtis Cam's Quest, 334 p. Darby Creek, 2007. 


Princess Quinn's father is determined to have her married off - and soon. So she suffers through endless balls meeting endless prince's who do absolutely nothing for her. But Quinn in pinning for Adam, the boy she left behind in the world above. Meanwhile, Cam, the wizard's apprentice is cast loose from his home; he wants so badly to offer for Quinn's hand, buts dares not, because he has no idea of his family and origins. The answers for both teens lie in the world above. 

It has been a long time since the original publication of Princess Nevermore, and I honestly thought thee would never be a sequel. Thank goodness Ms. Regan proved me wrong. Cam's Quest is a nice adventure tied up in a romance with just the right amount of magic and danger. 


The Hour of the Cobra by Maiya Williams - ADVISABLE

Williams, Maiya The Hour of the Cobra, 290 p. Amulet (Harry Abrams), 2006. 


Xanthe, Xavier, Rowan and Nina are back for further adventures. They are going back in time with Aunt Agatha on a special mission to Ancient Egypt. The conflict between Xanthe and Xavier, however, escalate to a point where the twins cause a split in the time stream and they find themselves in an alternate reality. Only they can figure out how to repair the damage and save everyone from their original home. 

This novel is quite a fitting sequel to the original Golden Hour. It is a fine piece of adventure fantasy with some good lessons on sibling warfare thrown in. 


The Glitch in Sleep by John Hulme - ESSENTIAL

Hulme, John and Michael Wexler The Glitch in Sleep, 254 p. Bloomsbury, 2007.

At the tender age of nine, Becker Drane unknowingly applied for a job with The Seems, the behind the scene peoples who take care of everything that we of The World take for granted. After an apprenticeship, intensive training and some time as a Briefer, Drane has worked his way up to Fixer, the most important job of all of the Seems. But his first job may also be his last, as he is called upon to fix a Glitch - and not just any Glitch, but one in Sleep. If Becker can't find the Glitch, then the World will go into a Ripple Effect, causing upheavals and problems and conflicts that may never be resolved.

A perfect bit of highly entertaining fantasy that you need right now!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Pretty Tough by Liz Tigelaar - ADVISABLE

Tigelaar, Liz Pretty Tough, 246 p. 


Since one fateful day in the school cafeteria, sisters Krista and Charlie have hated each other with visible vehemence. Now Charlie has been recruited to join Krista's beloved soccer - Krista's senior year, the year she is supposed to be a star. But, Charlie is every bit as good as Krista and has been specifically recruited to transform the team in to a true powerhouse. The two seem to have a truce on the field, but unless the original feud is finally settled, they may ruin everyone's chances of a successfully season, besides ruing any chance they might have of being loving sisters. 

Good soccer, and great drama about sisters and friends and high school in general. There is some talk of teen drinking and Krista's boyfriend is trying to pressure her into sex, but otherwise it is superb. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott - ESSENTIAL

Scott, Michael The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, 369 p. RandomHouse, 2007. 


Twins Sophie and Josh Newman are caught up in a deadly encounter between the forces for good and evil, right in the middle of the bookshop that Josh works in. Josh's employer, Nick, and the twins survive the encounter, but Nick's wife is kidnapped and it looks as though the bad guys have won the day. But the twins are part of a greater story - and they are the key to keeping the forces of evil at bay. 

This is not the Nicholas Flamel that J.K. Rowling brought to the world's attention, but instead, we have a powerful, active agent for the side of good in modern America. Characters and creatures from myth and reality abound, so students who really want to understand will be well-advised to "know their stuff". But the action and adventure is plenty enough to engage those who just enjoy a great piece of fantasy. 


Monday, December 3, 2007

Unwind by Neal Shusterman - ESSENTIAL

Unwind by Neal Shusterman, 335 p. Simon and Schuster, 2007.           


Troublemaker Connor has been sent to be unwound by his parents who are sick and tired of his grating behavior. Orphan Risa is being sent to unwinding by the overcrowded State Home system. Beloved Lev is the tenth child in his family and is being sent to unwinding as a tithe from his religious family. Their lives collide in an explosive way on their journeys. 

This biting social commentary is full of heart, full of suspense, full of fascinating tension. Though the basis of the novel could be extremely controversial, the book is so "freakin' awesome" that it needs to be read far and wide. 


Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller - ESSENTIAL

Keller, Laurie Do Unto Otters: A Book about Manners PICTURE BOOK Henry Holt, 2007.
Mr. Rabbit is very worried about his new neighbors. Wise Mr. Owl talks Mr. Rabbit through his anxiety and give him good advice to make nice with the neighbors.
This fun, amazing, joyful book is great for almost every age, especially older classes with Advisory.
EL, MS, HS - ESSENTIALDo Unto Otters
Do Unto Otters: A Book About Matters by Laurie Keller. PICTURE BOOK.


When otters move in next door, Mr. Rabbit is upset.  He goes to his friend Mr. Owl who gives him very wise advise indeed.

Really everyone should read this book, no matter the age.  Very fun, very sage advice about get along with people.  This would be a great way to start every year. 


The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by Suzanne Harper -

Harper, Suzanne The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney, 362 p. Greenwillow (Harper), 2007. 


All of the women in Sparrow's family have the gift of receiving messages from spirits. Sparrow has the quadruple whammy of every gift possible for a spiritualist - but no one in her family knows it, because she has been hiding her talents since she saw her first ghost at the age of five. Now she has been found by a ghost she cannot ignore. The only way she can get her message across is by revealing her talents to the world. 

Fabulous, fun and wonderful to read. 


Sight - Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Vrettos, Adrienne Maria Sight, 254 p. McElderry (Simon and Schuster), 2007. Since a school friend was murdered during their kindergarten year, Dylan has been receiving visions - always of kidnapped children, just as they are about to die. Now 15, Dylan has been secretly helping the police. A new girl in town seems set on getting close to Dylan and shaking up her friendships. And, unfortunately, it looks as though The Drifter, the name the town gave to the original murderer, may be back in town. Dylan needs to confide in someone and the time has come for her to embrace her powers. This powerful, intense book will fly off the shelf, but be aware that there are a dozen-ish swear words (including one "f"). Fans of Haddix will adore this. MS - ESSENTIAL

My Mother the Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow - ADVISABLE

Sharenow, Robert My Mother the Cheerleader, 304 pgs. HarperTeen. 

Language-PG, Sexual Content-PG, Violence-PG


Louise lives in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans with her mother, running a boarding house. When Ruby Bridges comes she is pulled out of school and her mother joins the crowd every day jeering at the girl. A man from New York comes and starts changing their lives as he tries to change his. It had the perfect mix of historical fiction and fiction. I learned something while still having a good read. It showed that courage comes in all shapes and sizes. There was a little bit of alcohol. 

Student Reviewer: KD

Looking For JJ by Anne Cassidy - ADVISABLE

Cassidy, Anne Looking for JJ, 319 p. Harcourt, 2007. 

MS, HS - ADVISABLE (in the right school).

Seven years ago, at the age of ten, Jennifer Jones killed one of her playmates. She has served her time and is trying to start a new life, but the press knows she is out and they are trying to find her. Details of JJ's former life, with her negligent mother and the fatal steps that lead her to her choice, are interspersed with "Alice's" tries at a life for herself. 

 Be aware that there is an intimate scene that pushes the boundaries - some touching and feeling and removing of clothes. Fewer than five swear words and lots of tense moments. 


I Want a Hug by John A. Rowe - ESSENTIAL

Rowe, John A. I Want a Hug PICTURE BOOK Penguin, 2007. 


Little Elvis Hedgehog so badly wants a hug, but everyone he meets says that he is way too prickly. Rejection after rejection hurts his feelings, until he finds someone who is willing to take a chance. 

Irresistably adorable. Elvis will melt your heart with just one glance at his darling little face. I feel a stuffed animal being born! As a bonus, the idea can be used as a ready-made Advisory lesson for an older class, too. 


Grace Above All - Jane St. Anthony - ESSENTIAL

St. Anthony, Jane Grace Above All, 166 p. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2007.  

Language: G, Sexual Content: G, Violence: G


Grace, her siblings, and her mother are vacationing at their cabin for the summer. Her mom, who is a chain smoker leaves almost all responsibilities in Grace's hands and she struggles to keep everything under control. Her only refuge is Frankie, the handsome kid in the cabin next door. 

 She is a determined heroine who discovers how to rise above it all. I was frustrated at the beginning because it was slow moving and a little depressing, but I got into it and soon I was cheering for Grace and Frankie ! It is about love and hope and very enjoyable. 

Student Reviewer: MW

Booth's Daughter by Raymond Wemmlinger - ESSENTIAL

Wemmlinger, Raymond Booth's Daughter, pgs.-210 Publisher-Calkins Creek Publishers. 

Language- G, Sexual Content- PG, Violence- G


Edwina Booth's father is Edwin Booth and is known for his many plays that he has done all over the world. Edwina is John Wilkes Booth's niece although she does not remember him she does know what he did to President Lincoln when she was very young. She travels all around the world with her father going to many plays and watching her father act. She gets caught in between wanting to do what is right and stay with her father and sick stepmother or to go live with the love of her life. I thought that this book was very good. It brought you into the mind of what it would be like to be the Booth family and how hard that would be for the rest of your life. 

Student Reviewer: AN

First Shot by Walter Sorrells - ESSENTIAL

Sorrels, Walter First Shot, 280 p. Dutton (Penguin), 2007. 


David's family has always been a prestigious part of his boarding school. His father is the headmaster and several generations of grandfathers have taken the "First Shot", the shot at graduation that always hits the bullseye. David's mother was murdered two years earlier and the case has not been solved. He thinks his father did it; but his father is hiding thoughts of his own. Neither of them know the really deep secrets that are hiding on campus. But everything is about to be exposed. 

Sorrells has written and tight and tense novel that is sure to be widely read. Not a word out of place, except for the murder, but plenty of action and drama.