Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Magician's Elephant

Title: The Magician's Elephant
Author: Kate Dicamillo
Level: J
Location: J Dicamillo K.

I feel I must write this review with very little about the characters for if I describe them, I am likely to spoil your discovery of them. I will say that almost all of them are missing something and mention Leo Matienne, the policeman. When Leo first appears he is defending the elephant so I think the reader will know this a good, kind person. Pay attention to Leo if you want to try to figure out what is going to happen. The begining of the book is bit of a bummer, as in a downer, but I urge you to keep reading. There are moments of true understanding and the story does brighten.

Bottom Line: Kate Dicamillo is a master of story weaving. While I thought the book was well written I'm not sure who I would recommend it to. If you already have a love of reading books this one may be for you. Kate's books also appeal to adults so if you are an adult who loves children's stories this is a must read. How can an elephant, who can't even talk, play such a big part of the story? Well, it is a magician's elephant so shouldn't it be special. Many of the people in the story think it is. Find out how it brings them all together.

The Magican's Elephant

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Wyrm King

Title: The Wyrm King- Beyond Spiderwick book 3
Author: Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black
Level: J
Location: J Diterlizzi T.
Diterlizzi and Black have redeemed themselves! For anyone who did not read my review of book 2 I'll just say I was disappointed and hoped this, the final book of the series, would be better. It is! There is plenty of action, interaction of characters, and a satisfying ending for both the book and the series.

Spoiler alert- if you have not read the other books in the series skip to the bottom line. Nick discovers that after all the effort to get the giants into the sea it wasn't such a good thing to do. His family is torn apart and he is thinking to put forth so much effort and fail again just isn't worth the trouble. The nixie's are back, though a bit more cooperative this time. Almost all of the characters from the previous books show up to help as they learn why the giants are needed. What could make them need fire- breathing giants? Read the book to find out.

Bottom Line: A satisfying book to end to the series. Nick, his brother, and Laurie are joined by the Grace siblings, and they receive help from an unexpected source. There will be plenty of action as you try to find out why it takes seven people to fix what is still a giant problem and just what a wrym king is.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Battle of Jericho

Title: The Battle of Jericho
Author: Sharon Draper
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Draper

This book is about three friends who are pledging to join an elite high school group, The Warriors of Distinction. The main character, Jericho, has always been on the outside and is very pleased when he is invited to become a member of the pledge group. Everything seems to be going his way, especially when the girl he has a crush on agrees to go out with him. When a girl sneaks into the pledge group, the stakes are raised even higher- every pledge must complete all activities or no one will make it into the group. Jericho is an excellent trumpet player and must decide between playing his trumpet in a competition where he will be observed by a representative from Juilliard and doing a pledge week activity. As the week goes on, we see the pledge week activities go from bad to worse. Jericho must decide how far he will go to fit in with this elite group.

The Bottom Line: I loved this book and think everyone should read it. It makes you think about what you are willing to do to be part of a group. You really get inside of Jericho’s head to see the struggle he goes through and you really get to think about the decisions that you would make if you were in his situation.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Title: Impossible
Author: Nancy Werlin
Location: YA Werlin
Reading Level: Young Adult

Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

This song isn't just a pretty tune, it's a series of instructions, or tasks, for the girl to complete in order to be his true love. But, what if she doesn't want to be his true love and she's cursed unless she completes these tasks?

Lucy Scarborough learns why the women in her family go insane and she must complete these "impossible" tasks before she also goes insane and the cycle continues.

Bottom line:
I really enjoyed this book! The song, "Are you going to Scarborough Fair" was constantly in my head as I read. I loved how clever and original this story was. It has a little fantasy, a little mystery and a little romance. It's a quick read and a great story!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Missing - Books 1 & 2

Title: Found (The Missing, Book 1)
Author:Margaret Peterson Haddix
Location: J Haddix
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12

The first chapter starts in an airport, in an empty terminal. An unscheduled airplane suddenly taxi's in, and the airport workers can't seem to communicate with the pilot. Eventually they enter the airplane and there are no adults to be found - and every seat is occupied with a baby.
Jumping ahead 13 years later, we meet Jonah. He's adopted and he's cool about it. He starts receiving mysterious letters in the mail saying, "You're one of the missing". So he and his sister, Katherine, and best friend, Chip, who also found out that he was adopted, start to investigate where they came from and who is sending the notes.

*Skip to the Bottom Line if you haven't read 1st book*

Title: Sent (The Missing, Book 2)
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Location: J Haddix
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12

Thrilling sequel to Found and it was exciting. This is a series about time travel and children stolen out of time - and how those responsible are trying to return the children back to their time. Jonah and his sister go along with two brothers back to the 1400's. These brothers are the famous Princes in that went missing in the Tower of London. The author did a good job writing about this story in history and I found myself looking online for more information. This is going to be a 7 books series, so I'm trying to think of other famous missing children in history (Charles Lindbergh's son, Virginia Dare, etc.) who this author could write about. This should be fun!

Bottom Line:
What an interesting story! Margaret Peterson Haddix is good at writing thrilling stories that keep you on the edge of your seat. These books are no exception. I'm interested in the story, and care about the characters so I'll be anxious to see how it will all work out!


Title: Fire
Author: Kristin Cashore
Location: YA Cashore
Reading Level: Young Adult

Fire is heralded as the prequel to Kristin Cashore’s debut novel Graceling but the events in Fire occur about 50 – 80 years prior to Graceling and only one character carries over into that novel. This book takes place outside the seven kingdoms in a land called The Dells. Its inhabitants have never heard of those who are “graced” instead they contend with the lawlessness that characterized the rule of its last king and his corrupt advisor who are both now dead. Monsters also exist in this land, beings with a spectacular, bewitching beauty that have the power to enchant all those who look on them.

Fire, daughter of the king’s late advisor, is the only living human monster in the Dells. She is conflicted about her monster existence but has a moral bearing. Those who knew her father, blatantly mistreat Fire or are so wary of her abilities that they avoid her at all costs. She herself is initially timid and unassuming for fear of becoming the evil, degenerate being that was her father. She is also in danger from other monsters who desire to consume her. In addition to her natural beauty, Fire wields the power to control the minds of most everything around her, but does so reluctantly and only to protect herself. She wishes to live a quiet, unremarkable existence surrounded by her few friends. However, with her ties to the crown, her unique powers could be used to aid the new king as he steers the land toward a more peaceful existence.

Initially, I found the main concept of this book uninteresting, who wants to read about another beautiful girl with problems? I gave it a shot because I loved Graceling and think Cashore’s writing is phenomenal. Once I started reading, I found myself instantly hooked on this new land, the idea of monsters, the creepy character from Graceling, and on Fire herself. The characterization of Fire is absolutely brilliant. I enjoyed watching her overcome her struggles and blossom into a spectacularly realized character by the end. Even though this book is very much about Fire, supporting characters generate interest as well and are far more complex than what one finds in the traditional fantasy novel. The romance was obvious from the beginning but I found that it played out in a very satisfying, if not surprising, way. Since the Dells is a warring, contentious land, the suspense really builds in this book and it has some great action sequences from the middle to the end. I honestly enjoyed every second I spent reading this book and I will be in impatient anticipation for the next.

The Bottom Line: If you liked Graceling, you will enjoy Fire, but give it a shot either way. The story is imaginative, creative, and enthralling. For me, I loved it just as much as Graceling. Recommend it to teens and adults who enjoy fantasy, action, and a little romance.- Please forgive the massive review, I liked it so much and just got carried away ;)

My Soul to Take

Title: My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)
Author: Rachel Vincent
Location: YA Vincent
Reading Level: Young Adult

The main character, Kaylee, has these "panic attacks" - meaning that she has this uncontrollable urge to scream when she sees a person "with a dark shadow". She knows they are going to die soon. A new friend, Nash (a football jock who is gorgeous), helps her through her screaming urges, and helps her learn about who she really is. Cute romance included.

The main climax of the story is that healthy young girls are dropping dead with no apparent reason and Kaylee and Nash want to find out why. They even get help from a grim reaper. Very exciting.

Bottom Line:
The cover of this book drew me in and I ended up enjoying myself with the story. It was a quick read, and the author is very descriptive in her writing and she kept the story flowing. If you're interested in the paranormal genre - and want to start branching out from the usual (vampires, werewolves, etc.), then this is a book for you! This is starting a new series (Soul Screamers) and I'm hooked!