After being kept away from technology for 10 years, Hedda finds herself suddenly having to confront the devices of the modern world when her mother must travel to Australia. The only choice Hedda has is to go live with her father, his new wife and her half-brother. Almost immediately she encounters a bizarre situation in which a young girl supposedly commits suicide. Something seems off about the death. and Hedda tries to figure out what really happened. Other inexplicable violent deaths occur, and they seem to have some connection to an online- game. If the player dies thirteen times on level thirteen, they die in real life. Oddly enough the game is tied to Hedda. Her discovery of the truth ultimately tears her life apart. This is a thought-provoking novel. Can computer programs actually infiltrate the mind of the users and cause actions that they would not otherwise take? That is one of the questions the reader must confront. I found the story interesting, but I did have a big question about one scene. The story line moves through Hedda’s eyes – for the most part. There are some scenes which show action from another person’s viewpoint. These situations are indicated by a different font in the book. One situation which involved Hedda and her viewpoint I found implausible. Hedda goes to her father’s office and meets Kai, the receptionist. In this scene and only in this scene, Hedda refers to Kai as “they” not “she” or “he.” This is a very new transgender usage of pronouns. If Hedda had been socially isolated for ten years, she would NOT have had any knowledge of that particular pronoun usage. It appears to be a gratuituous reference to transgendered people. It does not fit into the story in any way. I found that disturbing. Also, when Hedda goes to live with her father she and her mother leave their farm. I could not find any reference to a caretaker or another farmer who helped them. When Hedda and her mother return to the farm, the animals and chickens are there, but the question remains: Who took care of them? If you can overlook these little problems, you might want to add it to your collection of modern fiction.
Lane Disanti is from London and she wants to make friends, but not just with anyone. She wants to meet girls who have the same interests as she does. In order to do this she plans a secret rendezvous in the tree house that her brothers built on her grandmother’s property in Florida.
She makes up special invitations and leaves them where only a certain kind of girl would find them. She had already seen one of the girls, Ofelia Castillo because she often came to work with her mother who was the cook for Lane’s grandmother. She slipped an invitation into Ofelia’s backpack. Since she had to read fifteen books before school started in the fall, Lane thought that the library would be another good place for an invitation. There, she slipped two invitations into summer reading club book bags.
One of those was picked up by Cat Garcia, whose mother was determined that Cat become a member of the Floras, an elite club for the girls of Sabel Palms, Florida. The last invitation was discovered by Aster Douglas, a budding chef. And from these invitations came the Inaugural Meeting of the Ostentation of Others and Outsiders.
Each of the girls knew that they certainly fit the “Outsiders Category.” The girls spend a wild summer together sometimes doing good and sometimes getting into serious trouble. This is an entertaining story of preteen girls who all feel that they aren’t a part of society, but who learn that friendship is the most important part of life, and they learn that other girls often feel the same way that they do.
This is a nice little adventure book for girls. It is about growing up and about dealing with family issues. The characters are well-defined and engaging. Although the girls do things that they shouldn’t, they learn from their mistakes and grow from them. I recommend this for all upper elementary readers.
Patricia S Brown, Educational Reviewer, Auburndale Florida
This is a fantasy that focuses more on relationships than the magic powers of the characters. The setting is in a world torn apart by war. The Union of the North – very reminiscent of Russia – is trying to defend itself against the onslaught of the Elda forces that want to totally wipe out the Union.
The two main characters are very different. Linne’ is the daughter of one of the generals of the Union. She felt that her father didn’t notice her, so she bound her breasts and enlisted in the army as a boy. She has distinguished herself by her bravery in battles, but at the beginning of this story, she has been discovered and disgraced for trying to serve as a man. Linne’ has the power of sparking things. That means she can make engines move and start fires by using her magical abilities.
Revna is the other main character. She is a factory worker who lost both of her legs in a tragic accident. Her father was very skilled in working with living metal, so he fashioned artificial legs for her from the scraps at the factory. The only problem with that is ALL of the living metal, including the scraps, are considered government property. He was tried and convicted as a traitor because the courts argued that his use of the metal impeded the war efforts of the Union. The government did not take Revna’s legs from her so, she went to work in the factory where her father had been working.
Revna has the gift of using the Weave, a type of strand that connects the universe. She can locate and pull objects along the strands Weave. Both girls are recruited to serve in an experimental airborne division for the war effort, and all the men expect them to fail. Revna and Linne’ do not like each other, but they are thrown together because no one trusts Linne’. They think she is a spy, and no one else wants to fly with Revna because they see her as a liability who might get them captured because she can’t run if they crash.
All the girls fear the two Sakrov officers that come to their camp. The fact that Linne’ used to serve with them only makes the girls fear her more. The Sakrov are like the CIA, and they deal mostly in intelligence and torture. The Union has a strange philosophy that if a soldier goes down behind enemy lines and then manages to escape then they must be a traitor, so they are tortured upon their return and then killed or taken to work in the mines. All of the girl aviators are allowed to only fly at night so their presence won’t demoralize the men.
One night Revna and Linne’ crash deep in enemy territory. How they get out and what they learn about each other is the main point of the story. While the book comes to a satisfactory ending, I think there is a possibility of more to come. Even though there is occasionally a bad word, and some smoking and drinking, I recommend this book for middle school and highs school libraries.
Aden has a great relationship with mathematics, but the rest of her life is up-in-the air. The family is still reeling from the loss of her mother. Her best friend is boy-crazy and intent on starting an affair with one of her teachers. Aden has never dated and thought that part of her life was fine until Tate came into her life. Tate wears his yarmulke and a grin to school and is a friend to everyone. Aden is fascinated by him – especially that he is not afraid to openly display his religious convictions.
When Tate needs help with his calculus class, Aden steps in and helps him with his homework. Aden knows she is drawn to Tate, but he is dating another girl. I was feeling very impressed with Tate and Aden’s relationship at the start. He talks to her about his faith (She is also Jewish), and takes her to meet with a rabbi. But I lost that view of the relationship when he invites her to his house one night, gives her alcohol and proceeds to have sex with her. Worse yet is the fact that he gets up and leaves her in the bed with no explanation, does not even tell her ,”Goodbye.”
The redeeming part of the tale is that this did not destroy Aden, but she realizes that she cannot be around Tate. Girls who read this may understand that they don’t have to get “mushy brained” about love relationships.
I believe this must be an informed purchase for the high school library. The characters are very believable, and there is an over-all good resolution. However some schools may object to the sexual scenes. Also, the best friend does have sex with the teacher, but does not in trouble for it. The friend, Marissa, becomes pregnant, but she also had sex with another student about the same time so the fatherhood of the child is unknown. The teacher tells Marissa that his wife forgave him and that he is staying with her. That resolution bothers me. I don’t want to NOT recommend the book, but if it is purchased, it definitely needs to stay in the high school library.
Aventurine is a young female dragon who wants to explore the world outside her family’s lair. Her adventure into the unknown has disastrous results when she meets a food wizard who gives her enchanted chocolate which turns her into a human.
Aventurine falls madly in love with chocolate and wants more of it. She eventually is taken in as an apprentice to a famous chocolatier and begins to learn how to make the best chocolate in the kingdom. She also makes a friend of a young girl in the town.
Unfortunately, her dragon family is trying to find her, and Aventurine must decide how to stop them from destroying the world she must now live in. This is a cute story for elementary readers, grades 3-6. I recommend its purchase because it is a very unique approach to dragon tales.
Mailee and Cars are two high school best friends who always look out for each other. They both have issues that cause them to rely on each other. Cara, the logical organized one, gets drawn into a survival cult that is living in the mountains near their town. Mailee is not pleased with the was Cara is getting involved with the cult, but she is unsure about how to help her.
Cara invites Mailee to visit the commune, and Mailee becomes even more uneasy when she meets the leader of the group. Mailee stumbles on something outside the camp that terrifies her. She knows she has to get Cara away from the group, but her effort to do so may get her killed.
The price that one must pay for true friendship[ is the theme of the book. The characters are very well developed, and the plot is tightly constructed. There is some sex alluded to but nothing graphic. I highly recommend its purchase for the high school reader.
Fans of Sarah J, Maas will love this first book of a new series. This story takes place in the Witchlands. The main characters, Safiya and Iseult, and the land in which they live has long known the diverse power of witches. These two come with very unique powers – which most had thought were long gone from the land. Iseault is a Threadwitch. She sees the ties that bind people to each other as strands of color. The colors indicate to her the emotional bonds between people. But, she is unable to see her own bonds, and the lack of that ability limits her knowledge of how people may be using her. Iseult is the cool-headed, more balanced of the two.
Sayfiya is a Truthwitch; she knows when people are telling her the truth. Most of the rulers of her world do not realize that she is a truthwitch because she knows her life is in danger if they dicover her abilities. If her power were made known, she would be the most sought-after person in the land because she would know if countries and rulers were telling the truth to each other. Safiya is also impetuous and quick-tempered. She often acts without thinking the consequences through. She definitely needs Iseult to give her balance.
A young Bloodwitch, a man who can smell people’s blood and track them down, and a young male Wind Witch appear on the scene and their lives are changed forever. The girls have many harrowing adventures the outcomes the reader will not anticipate. The reader will be eagerly anticipating the arrival of the next book in the series.
High school and middle school readers of fantasy will drawn into this tale of friendship and love. I recommend it for such people.
This book is not at all what I expected when I picked it up. I had thought that it might be about tattoos and people’s reactions to them. While it IS about tattoos, it is more about a dystopian society that touts education as a way to move up in society while, at the same time, making it nearly impossible for that to happen.
In this society, if a person is caught in a misdemeanor crime such as buying food or medicine in a “shadow market” – an unsanctioned market where items are available that are not normally available in the regular stores, they immediately receive a tattoo around their wrist. Three tattoos, and they go to prison. Tattoos are given immediately without any sort of trial – only that the police had caught them doing something “illegal.”
Lyla Northstrom is one such girl who has received a mark when she went to a shadow market to buy medicine for her ailing mother because her mother is not able to get medical care from any acceptable medical facility. A police officer, who she has known since a child, offers her a way to redeem herself and to get her mark removed. He wants her to spy on one of her best friends who has also been marked for participating in underground activity. She must decide if her freedom from condemnation and a chance to get an education is worth betraying her friend. As she gets further into the underworld and into the world of the government that is controlling her world, she learns that many things are not as they seem.
This book is also a sort of commentary on the control that government can get over people’s lives and the results of that control. I watched a documentary on freedom just yesterday, and I was hit with the comment that one can either have economic freedom OR government regulations – not both. This books is a good example of what MIGHT happen if the government reigns supreme in all aspects of one’s life. It is too frighteningly possible for such a society too exist is freedoms are eroded one by one.
This story is told as a combination standard novel and graphic novel, an unusual approach but may help get the graphic novel people reading something a little more challenging. I could not list it as a graphic novel, but it does have elements of that genre in it. And, one of the characters does write a type of graphic novels.
This second book in the Todhunter Moon series is well-written and is a pleasure to read. Alice Todhunter Moon is a novice magician in the Castle when a young girl accidentally enters the lives of the people in the Castle through the Ancient Ways. The inhabitants of the Castle already know about the Egg of Orm which had been stolen by an evil sorcerer named Oraton-Maar. But, they have no idea where he is keeping it until it hatches. Of course, the girl can help them, but she doesn’t trust them, and they soon learn they can’t trust her either.
How Alice and her friends manage to get to the egg before the baby Orm hatches and whom the Orm will imprint on when it does hatch makes this a very fast-moving tale that will appeal to the middle-school reader.
Reader of the Septimus Heap series will enjoy this new series. It continues with Septimus Heap now being in charge of the Castle. This book may stand alone, but the reader will want to go back and read the first book if she begins with this one.
I had read Tamar by Mal Peet, and I loved the story. When I saw this book show up on our review list, I was glad that I could review it, thinking that it would be as good as the one I had read. I was VERY wrong. I read the entire thing, hoping against hope, that I would find something to like about it. The only thing I can say is that it was the biggest piece of twaddle I have ever read.
The main character is a writer of sentimental coming-of-age books for boys. His agent convinces him that he needs to write a fantasy, because “fantasy sells.” He can’t bring himself to do it, but in a very Faustian move, he does sell his soul to a “greme” named Pocket Wellfair, who actually writes a fantasy for him. After he becomes a sensation in the fantasy market, his agent tells him that he has to expand his work into a trilogy. Many unbelievable things occur between the writing of the first book and that of the third book – one of which is that he goes off to an island in the Mediterranean to avoid having to write the thing at all.
I totally get it that Peet is thumbing his nose at writers who are looking out for their own “pocket wellfair.” I do know that he thinks that writers who write to please their agents – no matter how pleasing or pretty those agents might be – will not be happy nor successful in the long run. Hats off to Peet for that.
However, the book is loaded with so many British phrases and phonetic pronunciations that no high school student will ever take time to read it. I’m not sure that many adult readers in the U.S. would choose to read it. There is no way I could ever recommend the expenditure of limited library funds for this.