Middle-schooler Shane Johnson loves the sounds, action, and energy of basketball. On the court, he feels most whole and alive. After he is in a serious accident that leaves him in a coma for a month, Shane returns to basketball, but Travis Clark has taken over his position on the team. How will Shane regain that lost part of himself so that he no longer feels empty, helpless, and without a purpose? Now that he is on the road to full recovery, Shane is happy to be out from under the pain, anger, sadness, and stress that he thought would hover like a dark cloudRead More →

Her Radiant Curse by Elizabeth Lim is a fantasy blended with elements of both English and Asian folklore. While Lim tells a tale of two sisters and their unbreakable bond, she also relates key truths about human nature—those that regard greed, treachery, and trust. The only time Channari Jin’aiti feels truly alive, truly free, and truly awake is when she is in the jungle. Since her sister Vanna was born, Channi has hunted the Demon Witch who has taken the body of a tiger as her vessel and searches for the dragon pearl. “The Channi of the jungle and the Channi who lives in herRead More →

Wren Warren and Derek Pewter-Flores ae both sixteen-year-old members of the four founding families in Hollow’s End. Wren’s family grows wheat, and Derek’s grows melons. The the pair hopes to build on their families’ 150-year-legacy, marry, and have children someday, but Wren has overheard her parents arguing about money, so she takes measures to help increase the farm’s production. Soon after, a blight appears, one with devastating effects on the soil, crops, animals, and people—one with the power to fracture not only a family but a future. Believing herself responsible, Wren takes matters into her own hands, and what she discovers rocks her core. WhenRead More →

With themes and a style similar to the stories penned by Lemony Snicket, Rex Ogle writes a mystery featuring the unfortunate events of Will Hunter in The Supernatural Society. In what hints at a series, this installment is narrated by a monster. When Will Hunter’s dad abandons his family, mother and son are forced to move from Brooklyn, New York, to East Emerson, Massachusetts, where Will’s mother secures a job as a nurse. Sixth grader Will hates that he has no choice in this “fresh start” his mother describes. His only solace is in his Saint Bernard, Fitz, a Christmas gift from his father yearsRead More →

Readers of the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend and the Starfell series by Dominique Valente will likely enjoy The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder. This fantastical tale features the young Emily Featherhaugh, whose mother’s idiosyncrasies turn Emily into a “human firework of foot-stamping rage” (2). Emily was shamed at school and accused of living like trash after helping her mother retrieve “important art materials” from the dumpster.  Even the City Council receives complaints that Maeve Connolly is a “crazy Irish art woman who makes noise at all hours” (2). But when her mom receives a special delivery– a heavy, khaki-colored envelope from a giant carryingRead More →

The adventures of the Legend Hunters continue in Book 2, Darkmouth: Worlds Explode by Irish author Shane Hegarty.  Not unlike the world of Artemis Fowl, predicaments and otherworldly creatures populate Darkmouth, where Finn the Defiant resides.  As a swarm of Legends was descending, Finn’s father pushed his twelve year old son to safety, and the gateway to the Infested Side closed, trapping the last Legend Hunter, Hugo the Great.  Now, Finn has fewer than 48 hours to find his dad who has been declared dead by the Council of 12. Although Finn is determined to rescue his father, the prophesy predicts his peril.  As theRead More →

A couple of weeks ago we saw “her“, the Spike Jonze film about the lonely man who develops romantic feelings for his artificially intelligent operating system.  I thought that one of the most fascinating aspects of the film was how the OS, who calls herself Samantha, grew from the basic program that Theodore bought into a complicated, dynamic, interesting, and fully-actualized “person.”  Questions of physicality aside, witnessing Samantha’s evolution beyond her original programming was like watching any human being discover, adapt, learn, and become who they are meant to be. As I was thinking about Samantha (and her relationship with her world and Theodore), myRead More →

Readers who like plots that revolve around danger and destiny and who enjoyed the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan will likely find Tera Lynn Childs’ trilogy riveting.  The major difference in the two text sets is the genders of the protagonists and the prominent roles played by mythological monsters—like the manticore, harpies, or Gegenees giant, rather than just gods and goddesses. The second book in Childs’ series, Sweet Shadows, which features Greer, Gretchen, and Grace—the Key Generation—tells the story of the shadow life of the triplet sisters and their mythological legacy.  The diversity of the three girls represents a Pythagorean balance—appropriate for this trinityRead More →