Friday, June 30, 2006

Sequel Mania

As I was getting ready to publish this blog, I realized that every one of these books is a sequel. Three of them are the final in the series, but the other two are in the middle somewhere. And the book I am reading today is also a sequel. I have to tell you - that drives my son crazy - sequels that is. He prefers his books to be singles. I think he really doesn't like series because he is so impatient for the next one. He and me daughter always snatching books out of my ples of reading. The two of them read faster than I do! So here are some pretty great sequels for you and your students.

Haddix, Margaret Among the Free, 194 p. Simon and Schuster – Luke had been working in the stables at the Population Police headquarters for some time when he is taken on a patrol designed to issue new ID cards to the entire population simultaneously. When an old lady refuses to comply, Luke is ordered to shoot her; instead he makes a bold decision, leading to more decision which may change the course of his country’s history forever. This is an excellent end to the Shadow Children series. Plain, unembellished language brings the series to a swiftly moving, engrossing end. EL, MS – ESSENTIAL

Westerfeld, Scott Specials, 372 p. Simon and Schuster – Tally has been turned into a Cutter – ceramic bones, super healing and extra icy. Along with her friend Shay and the other Cutters, Tally sets in motion world-changing events involving every important figure Tally has ever come in contact with. The end of Tally’s story is filled with excitement, action, adventure and plenty of twists and turns. I did struggle with the feeling that Tally was just constantly being used by everyone around her, but with all of the excitement, plot sometimes takes a back burner. Tally’s final decision, while I think it was inevitable, was made incredibly quickly, but I still enjoyed the ride. MS, HS – ESSENTIAL

Zahn, Timothy Dragon and Herdsman, 299 p. Tom Doherty Associates – 4th in the Dragonback series. When one of Jack Morgan’s schemes to get information about the K’da enemies fails, he is joined in flight by Alice Kayna from his mercenary days. The group flees to a planet where they discover primitive K’da, Phooka, which they must protect also they also try to escape their enemies. Ambushes, sneak attacks, stealthy moves and quick thinking help this book move along. As this is the fourth book in the series, I hope we are nearing the end, as only one major plot point was revealed and that one was a surprise for the last couple of pages of the book. Jack is resourceful enough and Dracos is smart enough that I could wish for a little more. Not the best of the series. In fact, the author has yet to top number one! MS, HS – ADVISABLE (but only if you already own the series)

Meyer, Stephanie New Moon, p. – Return to Forks and the romance between human Bella and vampire Edward. Stir in a few werewolves and some really ancient vampires from Italy to spice things up. I am going to give away absolutely zero plot points in this review. The novel is excellently written. Even though you know it is setting things up for further books (one book?), you will still keep reading straight through until the end. MS, HS-ESSENTIAL

Delaney, Joseph The Last Apprentice: Curse of the Bane, 462 p. HarperCollins – Tom Ward and his master, the Spook, must confront the Bane with the help of Alice, Tom’s witchy friend, who is turning further to the dark side. Very dark and full of creepy ways to conquer evil. If you district tried to ban Harry Potter, you don’t want to add these books. On the other hand, if you students can tell the difference between make believe and reality and like spooky stuff, then by all means get this. I do not recommend this series for elementary students at all. MS-ADVISABLE

Barron, T.A. The Eternal Flame, 293 p. (and an extensive appendix) Penguin – Tamwyn, Elli, Brionna and Scree each have separate and essential parts to play during the final battle over the fate of Avalon. With the help of their many friends they may just find a way to defeat Rhita Gawr and his minions forever. I have been read several books with a lot of action lately and this one does not disappoint. I was worried that the author was handling too many points of view, but I should have had more faith. Elementary and middle school fantasy readers will enjoy this series. EL, MS – ADVISABLE

Barry, Dave and Ridley Pearson Peter and the Shadow Thieves, 541 p. Hyperion – Peter is settling happily onto the island and especially enjoys tormenting Captain Hook, as he now calls Black Stache. Then another enemy returns to the island, bringing greater danger as one of the Others comes seeking the chest of starstuff. In order to protect Molly and her family, Peter must make the long voyage to England. From the cover of the book, you may expect a retelling of Peter and Wendy’s adventure. Instead, you getting a rollicking tale that sets you up for more adventures to come – adventures you will look for with impatience. EL, MS – ESSENTIAL

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

ALA Detox

I just returned from the ALA convention, where I spent almost every minute in the exhibit hall and came away with dozens of ARC's to read this summer. I actually read two while I was on the plane. So please bear with me as I read like crazy and then type when I feel like it. Let me just put in this note - Stephanie Meyer's New Moon is not to be missed! Greetings to my roommate Mary! Thanks for the great time and thanks for putting up with my early nights. And many thanks to the vendors, editors, authors and marketers that made it all so much fun to be there.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Goddess and a god

Spradlin, Michael P. To Hawaii, With Love, 198 p. HarperCollins - Book Two of the Spy Goddess series. Rachel is still not convinced that she is the goddess Etherea come to life, but Simon Blankenship, Etherea's immortal enemy reborn, is still trying to capture and use her. Rachel and her group discover another of Mithra's artifacts is hiding in Hawaii. When the kids are left behind, Rachel engineers the kids' means to follow - landing herself in a whole lot of trouble (many times) and endangering her friends' lives. Spradlin hits the spoiled rich girl tone of voice in Rachel dead on and creates a not-too-campy romp that very nicely mixes spy novels with fantasy. MS-ESSENTIAL

Gideon, Melanie Pucker, 273 p. Penguin Putnam - Thomas and his mother fled their world nine years earlier - after Thomas was badly burnt in a fire. Even without her Seerskin, Michael's mother has visions which help pay their way on Earth. Now, though, she will die without the skin - the visions are driving her insane. So Thomas undertakes the journey back to Isaura, knowing that he will be healed, but also that he must give up everything to return to save his mother. I was faked out by the title and the cover, but still enjoyed the reading. The book has a few swear words (but one of them is "F") and a couple of breast mentions (which TOTALLY could have been left out), which leaves this out of the middle school definitely - you high school people will have to choose for yourselves. Should be a big hit in the public library, though. MS-NO, MS-OPTIONAL

Monday, June 19, 2006

Beetles and Rock N' Roll

Lest anyone think I've made a typo in the title, I really did read a book about about insects yesterday!

Copeland, Mark The Bundle at Blackthorpe HeathT, 167 p. Houghton Mifflin - Art is the grandson of the ringmaster in the insect circus. Spying (by accident) with his shiny new telescope, he sees the fly who acts as their advanced agent embroiled in nefarious activities. Art and his friends try their best to uncover the plot, but even a stick beetle and friendly woodlice can't help until its almost too late. Kind of cute, though I wouldn't go so far as to call this book charming. Art and his friends really do nothing of importance to solve the mystery or stem the coming crisis, though they do have bug-related excitement and intrigue aplenty. My favorite part is actually the addendum which is a booklet from Art's grandfather, explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the various bugs in the circus. EL-PAPERBACK

Watts, Leander Beautiful City of the Dead, 254 p. Houghton Mifflin - On her first day at a new school, Zee is befriended by Relly - a young man with a rock band that needs a bass player and holds a very large secret. Zee happens to play the bass quite wickedly, plus she has a head for lyrics and is the catalyst the boys need to propel them towards actual gigs. Unfortunately, evil is willing to use Relly to get their hands on Zee - because they need her also. A great title and a catchy front cover will draw teens in, and they will not be disappointed by the contents. MS, HS-ADVISABLE

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hiatus

So - bad me. I went off to Hawaii with my family and didn't post one single day. Of course, I didn't bring any YA books with me - only my not-so-secret vice - trashy romance novels. There was way too much fun stuff to do - so reading wasn't really in the equation much. It was great to be back on Oahu. I spent one year of college at BYU-Hawaii, so I dragged the family to the Polynesian Cultural Center and we also spent a day on Sunset beach - the BEST sand in the entire world! By chance there was also a children's literature conference going on on Maui - Karen Hesse and Jerry Pinkney were there - but I had no idea until I talked to another librarian in the airport. There was a great spread about it in the local paper, however.

So. I'm home for a few days before ALA (YEAH!). I'll see how much reading I can get in. For now its grocery shopping, laundry and catchup with the mail!

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Move over Gary Paulsen!

A new novel - the author's first - will have "Hatchet" fans running for the shelves!

Hokenson, Terry The Winter Road, 175 p. - The morning Uncle Jordy is supposed to fly Willa's mother onto the next remote settlement in the far northern reaches of the Hudson Bay area, Willa finds him sleeping off a drunk instead. So WIlla takes matters into her own hands and flies the plane herself - an unplanned first solo flight. A severe storm wrecks the plane and leaves Willa with a little food and a large store of homegrown survival knowledge. After she fails to grab the attention of the rescue planes overhead, she makes the life-changing decision to find her own way to safety. At first I was a little skeptical that this was just a blatant "Hatchet" ripoff. But the longer I read, the more I liked, and then fell in love with this excellent first effort. Descriptive, exciting writing, excellent survival skills (as if I would know! - city girl that I am!) and by the end I had tears in my eyes, because I couldn't stand the suspense any more!!! I can't wait for the author's next book. EL, MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

Monday, June 5, 2006

Summer Fresh

Meet my summer book review website!

Nothing on here yet, but stay with me and the reviews will start rolling in. I normally have my reviews on my school website, but during the summer months I do not have permission to FTP. Which is really too bad, because I always read ALOT of books during the summer.

So, to keep my readers up to date, I have created this spot for the summer. We'll see how it goes!

If you want to see my past three years of reviews, go to this address:
http://www.sjms.jordan.k12.ut.us/MediaCenter/corner.htm
Hopefully the school computer doesn't crash and it will be up!
Later!