Sixteen-year-old Calliope Knowles is a self-described bitch, but that word hardly describes her true self, a traumatized young woman who is a ward of the state of Illinois and a clinically diagnosed graphomaniac.   Graphomania is a compulsion to write; Callie writes “for the same reason most of us breathe” (3).  Although she feels like a carnival side show and hates being a slave to the words in her head, the words motivate her to remember. Ever since her father disappeared, Callie has been compelled to write.  Although the authorities don’t believe she killed her father, they do think she knows something about his disappearance andRead More →

One hundred years from now, Great Britain will become an isolated police state with the Agency for Crime Investigation and Defense (ACID) controlling everything. People marry the Life Partners chosen for them, work at careers assigned to them, and live in apartments chosen for them, all by ACID.  Speaking out against the System is punishable by law, as are many things that we currently take for granted. Being accused of a crime is a certain prison sentence, as ACID will do everything within its power, and it is all powerful, to protect itself. Jenna Strong has been behind bars for the past two years, theRead More →

A sixth grader in Mesa, Arizona, Cole Randolph is concerned about fairly typical topics for tweens: homework, sibling rivalry, whether he has feelings for Jenna, and whether he should go trick-or-treating.  He and his best friend Dalton decide to visit the haunted house in Spook Alley, where the guy who just moved in previously performed special effects for Hollywood.   The effects turn out to be more gross than scary at first with bones, black bug juice,  a host that seems a little off to Cole, “not very bright, big creepy-looking, maybe not totally sane” (16), and a whiskered woman who eats venomous cockroaches as ifRead More →

What a fun, imaginative book Philip Webb‘s Where the Rock Splits the Sky is! Well, perhaps the word “fun” isn’t quite right, as there is nothing fun about the adventure Megan, Luis, and Kelly are having.  Basically, aliens have stopped the world from spinning on its axis, thereby plunging its surviving zones back in time about 100 years. Megan is on a quest to find her father, and learn the secrets of what is to come. Megan is brave, Luis is loyal, Kelly is a great “fish out of water”, the characters are interesting, and the premise is a great one. I read this book inRead More →

For readers who remember the adventures of Shade, a silverwing bat in the Silverwing Trilogy, Kenneth Oppel  delivers with equal measure, the action-packed and compelling story of Will Everett’s life in his most recent novel, The Boundless.  Set in in the late 1800s, at the time the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was being built, Will, who taught himself to draw when he was ill and bedridden for weeks, is looking for adventure.  The only adventures he has had have been in his head or drawn in his sketchbook or lived out vicariously through his father’s letters from various rail construction sites. When he arrives inRead More →

I guess it’s a universal truth: human beings are fascinated by imagining our own destruction.  Who hasn’t seen movie after movie, tv show upon tv show of the end of the world as we know it: life during and after the apocalypse, the alien invasion, the viral plague, or the crushed citizenry living under a ruthless, post-Armageddon regime?  Not to mention the avalanche of distopian fiction, populated by heroic characters whose grit and determination helps them rise up against the horrors that have pulverized the rest of humanity into pitiful shadows of their former selves.  And I’m not saying that the best of all ofRead More →

Ever since I was a child, I have loved books that begin with a map.  I love referring back to it as I read the story; to put myself right next to the characters as they live their adventures.  This book has a map!  That being said, I am not sure how to write this review.  By the back cover artwork (and I knowwe are not supposed to well, judge a book by its cover),Matthew Jobim’s The Nethergrim is a face-paced, nail-biter, page-turner of an adventure book…not that it isn’t, but nor is it. Edmund, Katherine, and Tom do fight for their lives, and for thoseRead More →

I pretty much hate it when I am reading a series and the author reintroduces characters and themes passed the first book. I have great appreciation for an author who has confidence in her/his readers’ intelligence.  That being said; some series must be read in order, this book being a prime example. Cole Gibsen‘s Shinobi is the third book of Gibsen’s Katana series.  As engaging as this book may be, it does not stand alone. As the characters are reincarnated samurai, this book alternates between the past and present.  There were many poignant, important memories from which I was left out. In fact, it wasn’t untilRead More →

Ben Mikaelsen fans will likely appreciate his newest book, Jungle Bones, which is about a young boy who is angry and fighting to survive.  As I read, many times I was reminded of scenes from Touching Spirit Bear. Dylan Barstow is defiant, disrespectful, and determined to do whatever annoys adults the most.  The only sane part of his life is a black lab named Zipper.  Not quite an eighth grader, this king of contempt has a “file as thick as a phone book” (10) and a chip on his shoulder “as big as a log” (29).  Resentful that his mother treats him like a screw-up, heRead More →