Archive | November, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

25 Nov

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Copyright 2012

Jasper Fforde has written two other series I’ve read: Thursday Next and the Nursery Crimes.  I have always contended that the Nursery Crime books were actually intended for middle school students instead of adults – its just the right sort of humor.

This time, Fforde has moved officially into the youth market with a new series, Chronicles of Kazam.  Jennifer Strange is 16, or will be in two weeks, and runs Kazam Mystical Arts Management, an employment agency for magicians.  Of course magic isn’t the same anymore.  Everyday there is less and less magic.  Magic carpets are reduced to pizza delivery.  But something changes.  There is a rumor that the last dragon will be slain.  Pragmatic Jennifer, lost in a bin of crazy acquaintances, magicians, and monarchs, plods along to her own destiny.  Who is the dragonslayer?  And why is magic suddenly building throughout the land?  And what exactly is a Transient Moose?

For some of the answers and many more questions, you’ll just have to read the book yourself.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


Also Known As by Robin Benway

24 Nov

Also Known As by Robin Benway

Release date: February 26, 2013

I’m a big fan of Ally Carter’s series The Gallagher Girls.  Admittedly, I love a good title like I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You.  Who doesn’t want to pick that up?!  Still it’s got strong, smart characters and I enjoy those books.

People are going to compare these books.  Strong, smart female characters that are spies in high school are just too hard not to bring together.  But that’s where the similarities end.  The Gallagher Girls are kept separate and trained in their own school.  Maggie has her first big assignment on her own – going to high school for the first time.

At 16, Maggie is a brilliant safe cracker.  She and her parents have traveled the world helping the Collective to save the world.  But she hasn’t a clue about school uniforms. Who wears school uniforms without some personalizing?!  School schedules, homework and trying to meet her assignment to save the day is difficult enough.  But when the first friend you make is the school’s pariah, it’s going to be a little harder to connect.

I started this book because I wanted a strong female character.  I finished the book because I loved the conversations that moved it along.  The book is slim on descriptions, if you haven’t been to Soho in New York, you might not get a feel for the city in the book.  But the personal relationships move along nicely as Maggie meets the cute boy and fights with her parents for the first time and starts to grow up.  It was not an action packed book.  It was a fun book and I plan to add it to our library.


Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

22 Nov

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan, released October 2012

Just to recap, The Son of Neptune (book 2 in the Heroes of Olympus series) ends as the Argo II flying ship appears of the Roman camp.  I was waiting the whole book for the Argo II to arrive and the book ends at that point. (sigh)

The Mark of Athena starts with the arrival of the Argo II and moves away from camp at top speed.  Whose at fault?  Your best guess is to blame everything on Gaea.  But even with the Earth goddess waking, the gods and goddesses themselves are having problems.  What happens when your Greek side fights against your Roman side?  Zeus and Jupiter are the same, but not really.  And, with a prophecy in hand, the seven (plus satyr) follow their paths to save Olympus.

This book moves along with a great deal of action, cleverness and distractions.  It is highly enjoyable and its real fault lies in being book 3 in a quartet.  Next October will bring the anticipated, exciting end to another great series.

Summer Reads: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

17 Nov

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (courtesy of NetGalley)
Publication date: April, 2012

I love fairy tales that take the classic Brothers Grimm tales and changes them. Do you need to have the original Grimm tales? No. Would it make the story richer? Absolutely.

Mira, is 16, running away from her godmothers to find out about her dead parents. She takes the bus and wanders into a casino. And, runs headlong into a group of teens dealing with their own issues being part of a fairy tale. It can’t be real, can it? What does Mira’s birthmark have to do with anything? And, best of all, this book takes you down an expected path, twists things around and provides an unexpected fairy tale ending.

I highly recommend it!

Summer Reads: A Plaque Year by Edward Bloor

17 Nov

A Plague Year

A Plague Year by Edward Bloor

Published: 2011

One of my favorite “boy” books is Tangerine written by Edward Bloor.  In it, he creates a situation that is real and conversations and people that you know.  I highly recommend it.  But now, he’s taken on a subject that needs to be brought out in the open to our teens, even if we’re not ready for it.  Meth.

In A Plague Year, Mr. Bloor recounts in a fictional manner the year that Bradford County had the highest rate of methamphetamine-related treatment admissions in 2002.  Tom’s in 9th grade and studying to find a way out of his small town.  His family is doing well since his dad manages the local Food Lion.  They aren’t far from where the United Flight #93 went down on September 11th.  Slowly but surely Tom finds his town being taken over by zombies – meth zombies.  He’s trying to deal with his life, his friends, his classes, his sister, his relatives and the wave of despair in the town.

This book moves along, bringing back memories and addressing a problem that is still prevalent today.  It is something that I recommend most students read.

Recommended 7th grade and up.

Summer Reads: Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung

17 Nov

(originally posted 6/28/12)

Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities by Mike Jung (via NetGalley)
Illustrated by Mike Miahack
Publication date: October, 2012

12 year old Vincent and his two friends make up the smallest Captain Stupendeous club in the city. But they are the real deal. Because when someone new takes over the job of being the best superhero on Earth, that person might need a little help. Especially since Professor Mayhem is out to get the Captain.

This book has heroes, villains, middle school, guys, geeks, robots, girls, and alien abduction. What more could you want?

Recommended for 5th grade and up.

The Assassin’s Curse (Strange Chemistry) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

13 Nov

The Assassin’s Curse (Strange Chemistry) by Cassandra Rose Clarke
(via NetGalley)

This is an odd book.  Extremely readable in the sense that there is good conversation and a moving story line.  There’s magic and other worldly beings.  And, it’s not readable when the characters hide information from the reader, speak in odd cant occassionally and generally don’t act the right age.

I found Ananna to be irritating. Initially she makes the decision to abandon her home life on the spur decision of her impending marriage – which she had little choice in.  I actually like how that was handled, but her speech patterns go from normal to young to normal again.   Ananna deals maturely with the results of her hasty departure, but rather than get emotions from her, we tend to get irritations.  Then she is dealing with the Assassin and saves his life.  I don’t recall how long before he lets her know that he is cursed to protect her.  But he is.  Instead, he makes statements about protecting her and she goes along with it.  Really?

At one point, I had to flip back in the book to see how old Ananna was supposed to be.  She wavered in the age so much that I was surprised to find her expected to be 17.  Overall, the book doesn’t make me wish for another.  Maybe another rewrite.  I would watch for this author again, because I think the writing will improve.  Parts of it were very engaging.