Getting out from under the intense weight on my chest after reading Matthew Quick‘s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock has taken some time.  I felt pulled down into a deep, dark hole, all alone with only my thoughts about the futility of life, the lack of care or concern for myself or others, and a resigned sense of defeat in the face of an untenable future.  The slope down into Leonard’s depression is slippery and quick and getting back out isn’t easy work.  Which is the long way of saying that in Leonard Peacock Quick has expertly captured and painfully portrayed depression, anger, and isolation atRead More →

Early on in James Dashner‘s newest The Eye of the Minds, I jotted down: “Matrix“;  then a little later, “The Maze Runner,” and finally “The Truman Show.”  Dashner combines these and more pop culture influences in an imaginative, if not a wholly original, way to create a world within a world full of shadows, illusions, and shifting realities. VirtNet is an all-immersive virtual reality game.  After physically connecting to the interface, a player climbs into a “coffin,” the gateway into the VirtNet that induces a sleeplike state that keeps the player in suspended animation while inside the game.  Everything about Virtnet is programmed to beRead More →

Ok, I am so glad to be a vegetarian.  All those terrible things that I could imagine happening at massive feedlots, huge industrial slaughterhouses, and behind the guise of corporate “farming”, happen in Paolo Bacigalupi’s nightmarish comedy Zombie Baseball Beatdown.  Milrow Meat Solutions processes enough beef to feed people in seven states, which means acres and acres of cows packed into feedlots in filth and excrement up to their bellies, a plant the size of a small city that employs vast quantities of undocumented workers who, for 24 hours a day, race to process thousands upon thousands of cuts of beef, and a research andRead More →

9 year old twins Bick and Beck have lived almost their whole lives at sea.  Along with their older sister Storm and big brother Tailspin Tommy, Bick & Beck and their parents sail around the world hunting for lost treasure, digging up archaeological curiosities, and living a life of adventure.  Homeschooled on the boat to “survive in the real world – without iPods, iPhones, iPads or Papa John’s Pizza” (23) the Kidd kids can cook, man a sixty three foot sailing ship on their own, navigate by the stars and survive marauding pirates, shark attacks, and unscrupulous adults chasing them from one treasure trove toRead More →

In Rich Wallace‘s Wicked Cruel, three stories take place in a small New England town that’s full of cemeteries from Colonial times,  old roads that wind through the woods and end nowhere, and more than one strange old character.  Urban legends that spring from stories told and retold, always based on a “reliable source”, these stories are a little crazy, a little scary, and just believable enough to grab ahold and drag you in. When sixth grader Jordan is watching a video online he catches a glimpse of a kid in the crowd who used to attend elementary school with him. Crazy thing is, LorneRead More →

“A long time ago in  galaxy far, far away… there was a boy named Roman Novachez … who was destined to attend Pilot Academy Middle School and become the GREATEST Star pilot in the GALAXY. Until everything went TOTALLY and COMPLETELY WRONG…” (1)  And so begins a funny trip across the galaxy from Tatooine to Corsucant with a kid who feels  unprepared for the adventure that is middle school. Roman has been looking forward to following in his big brother’s footsteps and attending the galaxy’s renowned Pilot Academy Middle School where he can train to be a star fighter pilot.  But instead of being acceptedRead More →

Suzanne Lafleur, author of Listening for Lucca, brings readers into a magical world where there is more to life than teenage drama. Siena isn’t sure what she calls her “special intuition”. She is able to feel, hear, and see things that other people cannot. At first, she assumes her imagination is taking her for an adventure when she catches herself remembering vivid dreams. In her most recent dream, she sees this beautiful house, right off the lake in Maine. There is a calm breeze, a relaxing atmosphere, and a family who occupies the house. This family seems strangely similar to Siena’s, but she cannot figureRead More →

As its central conflict in The Darkest Path by Jeff Hirsch, the United States is again divided against itself, with some states controlled by the Federal Army and others controlled by the Army of the Glorious Path.  Leader of the Path is President Hill, who has co-opted progressive ideas about economic justice and mixed them with religious fundamentalism.  The Path believe that “there is a light inside all of us that comes from God.  The Choice is simply committing yourself to following the path that it illuminates” (254).  Propaganda occurs through mottoes and prayer, with followers believing “I am the Way and the Path” (240). Read More →

Matthew Kirby’s The Lost Kingdom will intrigue readers of historical fiction, American folklore, and adventure.  Kirby calls his novel “an American fantasy” since he blends these three genres to create the story of Billy Bartram, the famous botanist who in 1753 is a tween boy living in Philadelphia shaping history in colonial America. As he comes of age, Billy joins a society of philosophers and patriots who use their knowledge and discoveries to secure the safety of the New England colonies.  With this great society of men, which includes iconic figures like Ben Franklin, Billy comes to understand what is known so that he canRead More →