Archive | December, 2015

Curio by Evangeline Denmark

27 Dec

By: Evangeline Denmark
Publisher: Blink

Publication Date: January 5, 2016

(Received ARC from

 Grey Haward detests the Chemists that run her society. They have rules for everything including touching or consorting with members of the opposite sex.  To survive the starvation trait, Grey and everyone else must drink their daily ration potion.  Without it, they’ll die.  But Grey’s father doesn’t drink it, he gives his away.  So does her grandfather.  One night, after publicly defying a Chemist to try and save her friend Whit, Grey finds an odd tattoo on her midsection.  The next night, as she runs from the Chemist, she runs straight to her grandfather’s shop where his assistant takes her scraped hand and presses it to the curio cabinet with the words “Find him.”

The almost nonstop action takes Grey into a world of living porcelain dolls and mechanical people.  And the Mad Tock who is neither procelain nor mechanical but fixes both and flies with a strapped on contraption.  Then the book gets odd.

The story has lots of great elements but needs more direction.  It is not clear why the Chemists put up so many rules but it does explain Grey’s initial hesitation to touch anyone.  There’s a lot of back story missing (where is the old country that her grandfather is from, how do the intermarry, etc.).  There’s a lot left unanswered about Grey & Blaise, the Mad Tock, and most especially, having escaped from the Curio, what happened to the inhabinents there also in revolution.  Why are both societies fighting so much?  Are they meant to mirror each other?

The Epilogue isn’t an epilogue at all, but just another chapter with more questions than answers.  Only the very last snippet with Whit might be considered an epilogue and a prologue to another book.

Recommended: Grades 6 & up


Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 1

24 Dec

  Wonder Woman: Earth One Volume 1

By Grant Morrison

Publisher: DC Comics

Publication Date: April 12, 2016

Grant Morrison has reimagined Wonder Woman’s beginnings.  It’s not the narrative I grew up with but a good one.  Diana is much the same – the best at everything. Driven to do more, know more.  However, Steve Trevor is drawn a little differently than I remember too.  (You’ll have to read it for yourself.)  What I find annoying is that the brilliant Diana can handle the purple light but does not seem to know what it is.  Though later she can manipulate it.  Why?  I think the author was going for an innocent curiosity but it does not come across that way.  Still, the artwork is lush, bright, gorgeous. And, I want to know what happens next.

Recommendation:  Due to some of the content and implications, I will not get it in my middle school library but I still recommend it for 9th Grade and up.

Review: Simon Thorn & the Wolf’s Den

21 Dec

   Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den

By Aimee Carter

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Publishing

Publication Date: 2 February 2016

It’s the first day of school for Simon.  Simon is a scrawny seventh grader with a bully problem, a dead father, a missing mother and pigeons who talk to him mostly about food.  Besides this weird ability to talk to animals – including his buddy Felix, a mouse – seventh grade is shaping up as the worst year ever. His best friend is hanging with the bullies.  Even the 6th graders have no respect.  Simon won’t defend himself, but when another is threatening, he jumps in, no matter the consequences. The first day does not end with Simon being chased by a wolf, his mother arriving, and the swarms of rats trying to carry him off.  There are still hours to go and what Simon discovers on his first day will blow his mind forever.  

Boy discovers at twelve, he can turn into an animal.  I’ve read books like this before.  The difference is the author.  Ms. Carter takes us on a journey to the various Animal kingdoms where the betrayals come fast and furious.  Do you trust your parents? Do you trust the authority figures? Do you trust your friends? Do you trust your enemies?  

The only false note in the book comes at the end where Simon is dealing with Winter.  The emotions don’t add up in my view.  But the reality is that Simon Thorn is a who we want to be with a little extra something.  I think the boys in my school will enjoy it and the girls will too!

Recommended: Grades 5 & up