The third and final installment of Gordon Korman’s Masterminds series packs a punch to conclude an epic trilogy. Masterminds: Payback begins right where Masterminds: Criminal Destiny left off. Amber, Malik, Tori, and Eli have been split up escaping from the “Purple People Eaters” chasing them. They’ve been on the run ever since they discovered that their entire lives were fake. They were raised as experiments in a town called Serenity. Living in a fake city where nothing goes wrong, the four pre-teens were actually clones of the most notorious and terrible criminals in the world, living science experiments for something called Project Osiris. “Basically, theRead More →

While Lady Julia Lindsay Mackenzie Wallace Beaufort-Stuart (aka Julie) is home from a Swiss boarding school and exploring her grandad’s Murray Estate in Strathfearn, Scotland, she wanders upon a pearl thief and receives a blow to the head.  As she tries to recall the events of that fateful day on the Fearn River and to untangle a mystery of thievery, assault, and murder, she learns that memory is a strange and unreliable thing.  To solve the mystery, Julie must string together the clues, like pearls torn from a necklace. Besides being a mystery, The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein fits my definition of Cultural IdentityRead More →

If you are into fantasy or fairy tale books I would recommend reading Wendy Toliver’s new novel Once Upon A Time: Regina Rising. Although based on the television series Once Upon A Time, this story can and does stand on its own. This book takes place in the Enchanted Forest and centers around sixteen-year-old Regina Mills. She seems like a normal teenager – she is into horses, art, and boys – except she lives in a castle, her father is a prince, and her mother has magic powers and is critical of her every move. One of the things Regina has never had in herRead More →

After The Wrath and the Dawn, it’s obvious that Renee Ahdieh has a talent for illustrating beautiful worlds. In Flame in the Mist, she once more delivers a setting that sucks the reader in from the very first page. The setting this time is ancient Japan, a land full of fallen Samurai, bloodsucking trees, and powerful alchemists. The protagonist, Mariko, is drawn into this world after her convoy is attacked in the depths of Jukai forest. As the betrothed to a prince, Mariko doesn’t expect to be threatened by a band of mercenaries, but she soon realizes that everything she’s grown to expect no longerRead More →

Readers who enjoy science and mystery are in for double the pleasure in Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone.  Although the book–the first in what promises to be quite a series– is clearly a work of fiction, it has qualities of nonfiction, like back matter, notes about real science, and answers to essential questions about Antarctica, which literally is the bottom of the world. The novel features twelve-year-old Ava who builds talking toasters, motorized skateboards, and robots from spare parts; her fifteen-year-old brother Matt, an observer who thinks things through, circumvents obstacles, and forms theories from his collectedRead More →