JUNE
Ruins: Book 3 in Partials Sequence by Dan Wells
This wraps up the stories of Keri, Marcus, Samm, and a cast of thousands. So much conflict and confusion. Keri knows she is unique and feels that somehow she is supposed to save the world. But nothing goes the way she plans. There are some touching moments and many occasions for reflecting on what is moral and human. This is my favorite passage:
"Love is when you have the opportunity of turning someone's feelings or trust or vulnerability against them, but you don't. You make promises you don't want to keep, but you keep them because they're right; you help people who can't help you back...You lose yourself...Love is when you find something so great, so...necessary, that it becomes more important to you than your own goals, than your own life---not because your life has no meaning without it, but bwecause it gives your life a meaning it never had before." Extremely violent. YA Very good.

Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost
Book One. Will West has followed his father's rules always, but finally he can't avoid being noticed. At the same time his family life explodes with strange men trying to kill him. He escapes to a very very private school in the middle of Wisconsin where he makes the first friends of his life and discovers he is fighting more than just bad men--it's literally good vs evil. This moves as fast and furiously as a Rick Riordan novel. Pretty scary stuff right to the end where there seems to be a short breather until Book Two. Excellent. YA for violence. mild romance. reference to in vitro.

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm
Ellie is 11 and things aren't great as she starts middle school. Then her grandfather shows up--as a sullen teenager with overtones of cantankerous old man. Of course there are gaping loopholes if you want to look for them, but why not go along? Melvin has discovered the cure for old age, but he's been locked out of his lab and complications ensue (or there would be no story.) This was a bit slow-starting for me, but picked up nicely and added some very thoughtful moments. Lots of science references. Quite good. 3rd+

I.Q. Kitty Hawk (book three)
Q and Angela are following terrorists who have kidnapped the president's daughter. With the SOS team led by Boone (how old is he???) they follow a very professional team of assassin's with Angela's mother imbedded as the Leopard. Lots of action, explosions, and quick thinking. Hard to believe that simply following kidnappers can be so complicated. Excellent conclusion--except of course the plot continues. What a great action writer! Excellent. 4th+

I.Q. book four The Alamo by Roland Smith and Michael Spradlin
The extraordinarily organized terrorist cell that the Leopard has sworn to stop has moved on from Kitty Hawk to San Antonio where the team is spread thin trying to stop various threats including car bombs and kidnappers. Wow. So exciting. Awfully messy with deaths of the bad guys and the "this didn't happen" covers. But a great read. Very very good. 4th+

Land of Stories: the Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
meh. Twins Alex (girl) and Conner (boy) fall into the Land of Stories through their grandmother's storybook, after a long slow introduction. There they must find all of the pieces to recreate the Wishing Spell explained in a journal, if they want to return home. Yadda Yadda. I guess my main problem is that the writing is immature. "It was like they were standing in a gigantic tropical garden with large colorful flowers of all shapes and species. There were weeping willows over small ponds and vines that grew aross the ground and up the trees. There were beautiful bridges over many streams and ponds."
Just not great word choice or imagery. And Conner is occasionally funny but not consistently. The morals might as well have an arrow with the words "lesson here" on it. Probably it would be a fun read-aloud. Lots of action and semi-intrigue. 4th+
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Wow, talk about imagery and word-choice. This was soooo much better than Wishing Spell for me. Felicity Pickle is coming to her mother's hometown of Midnight Gulch Tennessee. But probably not for long because the Pickles are wanderers. Is it due to the curse put on the threadbare brothers 100 years ago? Felicity is a word collector with that snicker of magic that makes her see words rise from people and places. "The words in the woods hung like fat apples from the branches: Becoming Unfurling..." or "I saw words shimmering against the fabric of her dress, inching up her sleeves as slowly as silkworms." The language in this story is poetic and moving. Loved it! The plot is certainly not slambang. The tension of the threat of leaving along with the dread of the Duel keeps us hooked. And the curse theme is very much like Holes (Sachar). Exquisite.
4th+ Super Excellent. Splendiddly.

The Doll People Set Sail by Ann Martin
Another adventure for our two families of dolls as they mistakenly are discarded to the equivalent of Goodwill and find themselves being shipped overseas! Good for 2nd grade chapter book readers.

Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes
Gaby's mother has been deported to Honduras and Gaby has to deal with a dad who barely takes care of her and hurtful teasing at school. She does have a great friend and a school project working at an animal rescue shelter that is her passion. I wasn't impressed by the writing, but the story is good. Could be weepy for a read aloud. (nobody dies :) ) OK 3rd+

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Two Irish orphans, creepy mansion, night visitor who leaves mud footprints. Yes this is creepy. Right up there with Long Lankin. Not quite as creepy as Far far Away. OK for upper elementary. Like the best of the horror genre, the creepiness comes from the expectations and suspense. The actual violence is kept to a minimum. Quite thoughtful on lies, storytelling and courage and desires. Very Good. 4th+

we were liars by E Lockhart
Cadence, Gat, and Johnny and Mirren. Summers on their private island living the beautiful, exclusive life every summer until Summer 15. Cad just can't remember what happened before she woke up partially dressed on the beach with amnesia about that summer. And if someone asks you how it ends--Lie. This was a tear-jerker with some deep thoughts and great language. There were the metaphors "my heart spasmed among the peonies like a trout.". Then there are allegorical fairy tales. I did this book in one sitting. Whew. YA--OK for middle school.

Middle School: Save Rafe by James Pattterson and Chris Tebbetts
Rafe's art school is closing and to be allowed back into his old public school he has to survive a week of survival camp in the Rocky Mountains. A little fluffy as usual, but some life lessons. The art work is getting more involved - into full comic spreads. This is OK, not particularly moving for me. OK 4th+

Unwanteds: Island of Silence by Lisa McMann
somehow this feels like the middle chapter of a long book. It starts where book One left off after Artime and Quill begin a tentative peace. But something terrible happens which places Artime in danger. And there are new characters from a strange island where people are prevented from speaking. No resolution here. Definitely not to be read by itself! OK 5th+