JANUARY 2014

The Accelerati Trilogy Title: Tesla's Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman (netgalley)

This caught my attention because it's set in Colorado Springs. Dan's family has moved in to an inherited Victorian home in the suburbs after a terrible fire where he lost his mother. Items from the attic start demonstrating weird properties which is where the mystery begins but rapidly deepens into the strange and elusive Accelerati society. Great theory of science tied in with terrific characters. Very very good. 5th+ (some kissing, kids are middleschool)

Alex Rider: Russian Roulette The Story of an Assassin by Anthony Horowitz
Wow, I love this author. This is the back story of Yassen Gregorovich, the assassin who killed Alex's uncle. Told by Yassen, his story is sympathetic and yet moves inexorably toward his destiny of becoming a professional killer. The story itself is thrilling from the first chapter on. Yet there are moments of introspection and moral thought. Loved this. Excellent. Edgy violence but not excessive. Mature 5th grade.


Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana by Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet
First in a series about twins that explore the world and keep journals like the explorers of old. Supported by a website with photos and videos. The literature is passable. Told in alternating voices by Gannon and Wyatt, this story is about a safari that evolves into saving a lioness and her cubs as well as catching a poacher. 3rd+. Should appeal to boy readers too. Good

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer
Farmer reads with such genuine feeling for me. Her characters are interesting, complex, and easy to connect to. This is a sequel to House of the Scorpion and it would benefit the reader to read it first. The issues in this one are fresh though they build on the previous thoughts about slavery, mind control, cloning for harvest, and politics. Matt has survived the death of almost everyone in Opium and is the new El Patron. He wants to end the drug trafficking and production of "eejits". But who to trust. What is right? At what cost? Excellent. And pretty satisfying conclusion. YA for violence and romance.

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich
Adult material. But very funny.

How to Betray a Dragon's Hero by Cressida Cowell
Next to the last book in this series. Much more serious. Hiccup has to gather the lost treasures and eventually rescue everyone too. Finally Hiccup and Snotlout have a final confrontation. Moving. Good for 4th+


Fyre by Angie Sage
Much like Uncle Tom's Cabin the first 400 pages were a little slow. (seriously), but the action picked up for the next 200 and then wrapped up quickly. I pretty much slogged through this. Might have been better if I could have read it closer to the last one. A door is open to a whole new character at the end. 4th+ OK.

Sammy Feral's Diaries of Weird by Eleanor Hawken
Yes, weird is the correct word for this book. It's about Sammy's family zoo where suddenly the whole family (except our hero of course) become werewolves after being bitten by the family dog. Sammy has to find a cure with the help of Dan and Red who mysteriously show up and are exactly the help he needs. I'm not sure I really liked this book. A bit bloodthirsty. The evil Professor (why a professor??) is not explained very well. Sammy breaks into a school and steals mercury. (That's a bad thing to do isn't it??) And Red is a goth with a skull necklace to remind her that if you accept that we're all going to die, there's nothing to be afraid of. Hmm. It was a quick and easy read. For whom though? 4th+? Meh.

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
Requested by a student and I'm glad I picked it up. It's a dystopia but not near as depressing as most. Nothing to make it YA. Quill is a totalitarian society where at 13 children are sorted:Wanteds, Necessaries, and Unwanteds who are sent off to the Lake of Burning Oil. They discover that secretly there is a community called Artime where their creative talents are fostered rather than condemned. They are also taught Magic there for the time when Quill discovers them. Told by Alex, the gifted twin, who yearns for his twin (dare we say evil twin?), this is the first in a series. Lots of action, intrigue and moral conflict. Of course it's ridiculously oversimplified. Not quite "Harry Potter meets the Hunger Games" but good enough. 5th+

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
This is definitely for older mature readers. I wish I had just finished the Raven Boys since the characters are all the same, but I spent way too much brain effort trying to remember who is who and what happened. The boys and Jane (or Blue) are still looking for the ancient king who is hidden somewhere near their small town and exclusive boys' school. So much angst and darkness. Lots of magic including Blue's family of psychics. The new character is Mr Gray who we know is a murderer, but becomes something of a sympathetic figure. Lots of boy talk about homosexuality (in taunts) that would call for older readers, but no outright sexuality here. Murder, yes. Unusual. YA

Heaven is paved with oreos by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Though all of the characters are from Dairy Queen, this is much more of an intermediate reader. It's even written in a simplified style (was she going for low readers?).