This book would make a great serial TV show – the best of Lost, Peter Pan, and other fantasy-adventure stories – find a breath-taking and fast-paced home in Nadia Aguiar’s debut novel, The Lost Island of Tamarind.  One exciting episode after the next, each and every chapater ending with a cliff-hanger or surprise, keep the reader turning page after page. Maya lives at sea with her family – parents who are marine biologists, her annoying brother Simon, and their baby sister Penny.  In a terrible storm, their parents are washed overboard and the children find themselves drifting into a cove of the mysterious and magicalRead More →

Mari and her brother Jakob have been led away from Hamelin town by the enchanting music of the Pied Piper.  Through a hidden portal in the mountain, they find themselves in a magical wonderland, which is as dangerous as it is beautiful. In her mesmerizing novel, Wild Magic, Cat Weatherhill enriches and expands the age-old story of the Pied Piper.  The story has 3 points of view: Marianna and her disabled brother, Jakob, who can’t keep up with the others and becomes, at least briefly, the only Hamelin child not trapped inside the Hill. And finally Finn, the Piper.  We learn he is half human, half elf, andRead More →

Barry Lyga’s latest YA novel, Hero-Type, is an interesting examination of human behavior.  His sense of character and his astute window into a teen guy’s soul come through brilliantly in this book.  Lyga captures the struggles and feelings that define Kross and his friends and makes the reader agonize and cheer right along with them. Kross was in the right place at the right time and he saved a beautiful girl from being attacked and murdered.  Thrust into the national spotlight for stopping the attacks of a serial-killer, Kross is now the focus of everyone’s attention, which is almost more than he can bear.  Then,Read More →

Kin, by Holly Black, is an engrossing dark urban fantasy about a girl seeking the truth about her past-and her future. Rue, a typical goth teen, discovers that she is able to see the faerie realm, something that humans cannot do. After the mysterious disappearance of her mother, her father is arrested for allegedly murdering a student.  Rue starts seeing strange people and creatures around her and begins to wonder if she is descending into madness.  Instead she discovers that her mother is a faerie, one of the “good neighbors,” and her father, a mortal, has betrayed her, forcing her to leave the mortal realm.   Yearning to figure out who sheRead More →

In Deadville, the latest YA novel by Ron Koertge, we meet Ryan.  He’s been avoiding life, primarily by smoking pot and isolating himself with his iPod, since his younger sister died of cancer two years ago. But when Charlotte Silano — a gorgeous, popular senior way out of his league — has a riding accident and falls into a coma, Ryan finds himself drawn to her hospital room almost every day, long after her friends stop coming around.  And while he visits Charlotte, Ryan slowly starts to emerge from his own isolation – he reconnects with his parents, stops smoking pot, works out a gym, and evenRead More →

The dictionary defines a fable as: “a fictitious narrative or statement: as a: a legendary story of supernatural happenings b: a narration intended to enforce a useful truth.”  I’ve been thinking a lot about this definition after having finished Sonya Hartnett’s lyrical novel The Ghost’s Child.  On the surface it’s a lovely story about an old woman who comes home to find a mysterious boy in her parlor and proceeds to tell him the story of her life.  Matilda’s story spans most of the 20th century – from her shy childhood to the 2 year sea voyage she and her father went on looking forRead More →

I had fun reading Marked: A House of Night novel by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast.  Quick, fun and sassy, this was a great weekend read. Zoey Redbird’s world is a lot like our own, except that vampyres have always existed. She’s just been marked as a fledgling vampyre and has to go to a boarding school for her kind, The House of Night.  She never really felt like she fit into “normal” life – at school or at home – and so she hopes that she can find friends and acceptance in her new school and in her new life.  She’s in for aRead More →

Sometimes books keep me up at night – not usually because I stay up into the wee hours just to finish them (I like my 8 hours of slumber) – but because thoughts, ideas and reactions to what I’ve read the day before keep rolling around in my mind, forcing me down rabbit holes or through mazes that I hadn’t expected. Jay Asher’s debut YA novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, did that to me last week.  In a series of cassette tape recordings, Hannah Baker reveals the web of reasons, the snowball effect, about why she has chosen to end her own life.  The listener, ClayRead More →