June 2011 Archives

Thirteen Reasons Why

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Click for availability and more information Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
 
Clay Jenson can't understand why he receives a box of cassette tapes on his doorstep. As he begins listening to them, he realizes that they were recorded by a high school classmate who recently committed suicide. In the tapes, Hannah Baker addresses the thirteen people that impacted her decision to end her own life, and since Clay received the tapes, he knows he is one of them. Suspenseful and authentic, this book can't be put down.
-Catherine

Wintersmith

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Click for availability and more information Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett
 
In this third novel of his Tiffany Aching series, Terry Pratchett has outdone himself. The book has much more of the Nac Mac Feegles, or Wee Free Men, who give the story much of its humor, and for Feegle fans, most of the fun! Their trip to the Underworld is worth the price of the book alone. The usual suspects are also present in the form of Granny Weatherwax, Miss Tick, Annagramma Hawkins and Roland, the Baron's son.

As the story begins, Tiffany is living with an ancient witch named Miss Treason, who is blind but uses other beings eyes to see. Miss Treason takes Tiffany to see "The Dance" which is where she inadvertently interferes with the transition between summer and winter. This is also where she comes to the attention of the Wintersmith and the story really takes off.

Tiffany again finds herself at odds with a supernatural being and learns a great deal more "witching" and much more about herself in the process.
-John

Death Cloud

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Click for availability and more information Death Cloud, by Andrew Lane
 
It's 1868 and fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes has been sent off to live with his Uncle and Aunt in far-off Hampshire during his summer vacation from school, while the rest of his family, including older brother Mycroft, are scattered elsewhere. Sherlock strikes up a friendship with a homeless boy, Matty Arnatt, who has seen someone murdered by a strange black cloud. With the aid of Matty, mysterious American tutor Amyus Crowe, and Crowe's daughter Virginia, Sherlock uncovers a diabolical plan to undermine the British Empire by the sinister Baron Maupertuis. But can a boy Sherlock's age, mostly ignored by the authority figures around him, be able to foil the Baron's plan?

Andrew Lane's Death Cloud is an exciting Young Adult mystery/adventure that moves along at a fast pace. Sherlock and the other characters are well delineated with believable traits and motivations (even Maupertuis has a backstory that explains his actions) and there are many stand out moments, like Sherlock and Matty battling an intruder on their boat and Sherlock's later encounter with the Baron's henchmen under London Bridge. Lane also evokes a very real portrait of Victorian England, with nice attention to period detail.

The only trouble is that we discover the "Death Cloud" that the Baron plans to use to destroy England is revealed as an ultimately far-fetched plot element that would've been right at home on 1960s TV shows like The Avengers and The Wild Wild West (or even more recent series like The X-Files and Fringe) but not in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Holmes stories. (Although Holmes fans will pick up the in-joke reference concerning what's really inside the cloud and a certain hobby -no, not drugs- Holmes takes up late in his adult life. Still...) But that slightly off-putting story device aside, Death Cloud, the first in a new series on Holmes' adventures as a teen-age sleuth (and authorized by the Doyle Estate), is a thrilling adventure tale and lots of fun!
-Ed

Leviathan

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Click for availability and more information Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld
 
Set in the early part of the 20th century, right before the beginning of World War I, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan spotlights a world where Europe is divided into two nations. There's the "Darwinist" countries (England, France, Russia) who have broken the DNA code and can now create or clone hybrid creatures as weapons and transport vehicles. Meanwhile, there's also the "Clanker" countries such as the Germany and Austria-Hungary who use steam driven iron machines (like tanks with mechanical stilt "legs" instead of wheels called "Stormwalkers").

When the Archduke and Princess of Hapsburg are murdered one night, their son Alek must flee for his life. At the same time in England, a young girl named Deryn, who poses as a teen-aged boy in order to join the British Air Service, is assigned aboard the Leviathan, a massive whale-like creature used as an aerial warship. After many adventures, and with the onset of Europe on the brink of war, Alek and Deryn find themselves working together.

Westerfeld's story, solidly supported by Keith Thompson's illustrations, is a terrific, fast moving adventure with thrilling situations and believable characterization. But don't take my word for it. Read it yourself! And check out the sequel Behemoth afterwards!
-Ed

Click for availability and more information Jackie as Editor: The literary life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, by Greg Lawrence
 
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis held a uniquely enduring position in American society during the last four decades of the Twentieth Century. Her mystique grew ever larger as she survived the assassination of her husband, widowhood, and a second marriage to Aristotle Onassis, followed by a second widowhood. Yet, in the later years of her life, she chose to develop a career as an editor of books for Viking Press and then Doubleday. Greg Lawrence's new book, Jackie as Editor: The literary life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis details her life as an editor and it is terrifically interesting.

Lawrence is a particularly fine author to write this book for he gained first-hand experience with Jacqueline Onassis when she edited three of his previously-published books. This book's bibliography and notes show the tremendous amount of research he did. Lawrence writes extremely well as he relates how Jacqueline Onassis first got her job at Viking Press in 1975 and then, with great style and grace, became an accepted member of the Viking Press staff. She began to develop ideas for books, many of which were published. After a tenuous situation developed at Viking, she switched to Doubleday.

The Jacqueline Onassis Lawrence shows the reader is an intelligent, dedicated, resourceful, compassionate, and, at many times, very witty editor. The range of the books she edited covered such diverse subjects as Russian art, segments of French art and history, Michael Jackson's life story, the world of ballet and so many more. The added bonus of this book is the insight one can get into the world of editing and publishing. Jackie as Editor: The literary life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is a fascinating read and Lawrence makes her world of ideas and books come vividly alive.
-Roy

Schooled

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Click for availability and more information Schooled, by Gordon Korman
 
Capricorn Anderson has never watched TV, tasted pizza or been to school. He has always lived on the farm commune with his grandmother. When she is hospitalized, Cap must leave the only life he has known and attend Claverage Middle School. Will he survive this strange new world? Read Korman's funny and tender-hearted novel and find out!
-Deirdre

Secret Identity

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Click for availability and more information Secret Identity, by Wendelin Van Draanen
 
Meet Alvin Bixby, aka Bubba, the biggest, baddest bully of the whole school. Meet Nolan Byrd, aka Nerd, puny 5th grade math wiz and power walker who finally decides to fight back. Enter Shredderman!
-Deirdre

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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