New Book Reviews
Reading Level: Grades 7+
When the doorbell rings one day at the Sexton household, thirteen year old Lucy answers it herself, grumbling that her household servants never do much around the house. Standing on the doorstep is her mother, dirty, disheveled, and looking wholly not herself. But the woman is not her mother.
It seems that Lucy’s mother has a twin sister who, after being separated from both her parents and her sibling at birth, was sent to an orphanage and then a workhouse. Her whole life, Helen Smythe never knew she was meant to be a society woman, living in rich luxury and with an identical twin sister.
Aunt Helen is quickly adopted into the Sexton household, and lessons begin to change her into the woman she was meant to be. Despite her lack of any formal education, Helen learns very quickly and soon is deemed ready to be presented to Society by Lucy’s parents.
After Aunt Helen’s arrival into Society, life begins to change very much for young Lucy. With her aunt an official member of the household, Lucy is no longer allowed to think of her as a younger sister who needs to be shown the simplest things, or a schoolmate. Still, their relationship is much more open than Lucy’s with her mother, and Lucy is pleased for her aunt’s presence in the Sexton household.
A rousing New Year’s Eve party brings Lucy further into adulthood as she receives her first kiss from the boy next door, Kit, and on New Year’s Day the budding couple goes for a cold stroll in the park. When Lucy arrives home, her house is uncharacteristically silent and she immediately knows something is wrong. Making her way from room to room calling for her parents and aunt, Lucy becomes more and more worried about the silence in the house. When she opens the door to the back parlor, all she sees at first is red.
Mother and Aunt Helen sit in straight-backed chairs, tightly bound to each other. One of their throats is cut.
Lucy’s mother raises her head and looks, terrified and confused, into her daughter’s eyes, and nothing is ever the same again.
Reading Level: Grades 7-9
16-year-old Jessica was a gifted runner on course to win a track scholarship to a prestigious university. That was before the truck hit the team bus. One girl is killed and Jessica loses her lower right leg. Jessica sometimes wishes she had been killed in the accident since it seems she has very little left to live for.
Other tales of young amputees include:
Reading Level: Grades 8 and up
It all started when Sam broke a taillight during a game of parking lot potato hockey. Sam and Brooke did what most teenagers would do..they ran. When Douglas Montgomery stormed into Plumpy's, his only thoughts were of his broken taillight and retribution. When he noticed Sam his fury raged. How dare a young necromancer infringe on his territory?
Sam doesn't know what the scary dude is talking about. He's just relieved when the guy finally leaves. It isn't over. When Sam is viciously attacked after work by an even bigger scary guy, he knows he's in trouble. Sam begins to realize how much trouble after he receives a warning from Montgomery...a severed head.
Other tales of dangerous powers include:
Reading Level: Grades 7+
When you’re a homeless eleven year-old named Skip, there isn’t anywhere for you to go, because all the shelters are either for women with children, or for men, which you aren’t. When you’re homeless, a runaway, you never sleep in the same place twice, otherwise someone might be able to figure out where you are and take you back to where you ran away from.
Skip is asleep in a Dumpster when the bombs begin to fall. He wakes up violently, ears ringing, dust and garbage in his mouth, chunks of concrete raining down on top of his exhausted body, Dumpster rolling from the concussion of the blast. Skip doesn’t know which way is up, but he crawls out of the Dumpster and runs. Skip runs and runs, looking for someone or something familiar, and then he sees the grizzled face of his friend Billy.
In the days after the war begins, Billy and Skip rattle around the broken city, searching for food, for shelter. One day, they find a six year-old boy named Max who has lost his mother. Another day, they follow the train tracks out of the city to Dreamland, an abandoned amusement park that becomes their home. As soldiers begin to move in, Skip, Billy and Max find it harder to hide themselves, especially with the addition of the dancing teenage mother Tia and her infant daughter Sixpence to their ragtag gang.
It is Billy’s knowledge, Max’s unfettered optimism and hope, Skip’s determination, Tia’s beauty, and Sixpence’s innocence that brings them together. In A Small Free Kiss in the Dark, Glenda Millard has created a fragile world with delicate characters; a world that, as you read into it more, unconsciously pulls your blanket tighter around you and curls your legs up close to your body. This book is not one to read lightly, nor is it one to miss.
Reading Level: Grades 6-8
Allegra Katz is going to be a concert pianist. Her family of musicians has know that since she was four. Ally has been attending the Julliard School's Saturday Pre-College Division music program for years. Now Ally is almost thirteen and she longs for a life with more choices. Allegra doesn't know what she wants or even how to tell her parents she is having doubts about her future. If you are born with a tremendous gift MUST you choose it as your life's path?
Other stories of young musicians include:
Reading Level: Grades 6 and up
When the water started boiling around his leg, Daniel knew the pain was coming. He threw himself off the pontoon boat into the ocean. When he arrived home the third scar had appeared around his ankle. A ring for each of the young Loriens found and killed by the Mogadarians. Nine Lorien children and their guardians escaped the slaughter of their home world. As they escaped, they were given a protection. They could only be killed in order. Daniel now has three ringed scars around his ankle. Numbers One, Two and Three are dead. Daniel is number four...he is next.
If you enjoyed this tale of alien danger try:
Reading Level: Grades 3-5
After she is orphaned, young Emily makes the best of her situation, writing to her favorite aunt for a place to live. Unfortunately, the Catchum Child Catching Services have other plans - Emily must live with her closest blood relative, something Aunt Hilda is not. Instead, she is supposed to live with her money-grubbing, mustached Uncle Victor. What in the flippin' flapjacks is Emily supposed to do?!?!
Reading Level: Grades 7+
In this futuristic post-fairies fairy tale world, companies mine fairy dust residue in the earth from long-ago magic to sell as minor first aid remedies. Henry seems to be the only citizen unwilling to use this somewhat makeshift fairy dust, as his mother was killed in an accident involving a truckload of the stuff.
Our main character Henry’s father is the Big Bad Wolf, and when Henry has one little teenage slipup (a broken window), he is sent to the St. Remus Home for Wayward Youth (aka wayward animalians & one hominid, Henry’s best friend Jack).
Through Jack’s nimble fingers, Henry comes into possession of a series of letters written to him by his incarcerated father. The letters contain secrets – important secrets that could exonerate his father and bring them back together. All Henry has to do is get in with a guy named Skinner, by competing for a job in a dust drug-fueled and vicious race; then gather proof of his father’s semi-innocence. But in working for Skinner is no walk in the park; Henry now is a runner of nixiedust, a much more powerful and dangerous version of corporately mined fairy dust.
Many well known fairy tale characters are featured in the story, such as Detective White, who has a lingering cough due to being raised by miners, and Cindy Rella, a secretary type for St. Remus’, who has a fancy pair of heels. Some are blatant, like Ms. Rella, some subtle – Detective White – and others much less obvious – Jack, for example, is a kleptomaniac who escapes from St. Remus’ via plant.
Other books you might enjoy:
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner
Virals by Kathy Reichs
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Lockdown: Escape from Furnace Book 1 by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Reading Level: Grades 2-4
Jonathan Joseph Tully, a retired Search and Rescue dog, is hired by worried mother Millicent to find her two missing chicks, Poppy and Sweetie – but this SAR mission is not as simple as it seems.
The Trouble with Chickens is the kind of book that will make you stop and read aloud hilarious sentences to anyone nearby. Cronin has taken a very simple missing-child mystery and turned it into something much denser. Younger readers may not fully appreciate all the humor of J.J.’s detective style, but will certainly find themselves immersed in the mystery from the first page.
Other books with amusing dogs in them are: