Two kids, Caleb and Zen, in a special school for technologically gifted teens, find themselves wrapped up in a secretive group named Möbius as they try to free their families from kidnappers. Caleb’s father had passed away shortly after the family’s arrival in London, and Caleb knew his mother was a CIA agent, as his father had been, but not much else about her work. Zen’s parents were both well-known scientists. Both families are captured by some unknown bad guys, but Caleb and Zen manage to elude the captors. They contact their teacher, Professor Clay, and she reveals to them that she also is an undercover agent. Caleb and Zen become agents Swift and Hawk in Möbius the secret spy network run by Prof. Clay. In order to save their families, they must travel to the island of Spøkelsøy or Ghost Island, in Norway. Their lives are threatened at every turn, and they have to rely on their knowledge of robotics, AI, and themselves to survive and succeed in saving their families.
This is a fast-paced exciting adventure sure to enthrall any middle school age fan of computer gaming. There is violence, but it is part of the story. I think this is just the start of the Adventures of Swift and Hawk. I recommend this as an additional purchase for the middle school reader.
This coming-of-age tale is a first novel for Hayden. It is about a sophomore in high school who moves with his family from San Diego, California to New Jersey. That sort of move, in and of itself, would be challenging for any teen-age boy. But Harris Jacobus is not just any teen-age boy. He has spinal muscular dystrophy and has to have a physical assistant for all aspects of his life. His skeletal muscles do not function very well, but his mind and the rest of his body are fine. Harris has accepted his limitations, but he has never learned to relate to other people or to make friends with people his own age. He also never had good luck with the medical aides assigned to assist him. He relies on his mother to always be there and to take care of him.
Harris hopes that this move will bring big changes in his life even though he and his older brother will be going to separate high schools. Harris would like to have friends—maybe even a girl friend, but in order to do that he has to learn how to let people know who is. Harris has a theory about people’s favorite colors and how they will relate to him. His favorite color is blue, and he believes that people whose favorite color is blue, green or violet will not be compatible with him. He thinks that opposites attract; therefore, his best chance for having a good relationship lies with people who are orange, red, or yellow. The first question he always asks someone is, “What is your favorite color?” Their response colors the way he thinks they will interact with him.
The first person he meets is a girl by the name of Nory. She is in most of his honors classes, and they get paired up as homework partners. But she refuses to tell him her favorite color. The next person he meets is Zander, a nerd who sits with two other nerdy guys at a lunch table and whose favorite color is yellow. And the next important person to come into his life is Miranda, his personal assistant, whose favorite color is red. Harris calls her his executive assistant. Through each of them Harris gradually learns to be a normal teenage boy. Then, because of events in his life, he shuts out Zander and Nory; and Miranda leaves him because of her behavior. Harris finally grows up and realizes that Zander and Nory did not abandon him, and that Miranda, although she took him to rock concerts and drove fast, was not a good friend to him.
I was totally blown away by this novel. It is real and gripping. It allows the reader to experience, with no holds barred, the life of a teenager with a life-altering condition. The author, himself, has spinal muscular atrophy and lives his life from a wheelchair. It must have taken a great amount of courage for Hayden to write this book and be so open about how people with different abilities are treated. He openly discusses how his teachers talked about him while he was present and how others spoke to him as if he were a child. There are a few expletives and Harris does get drunk at a party on night. But the book points out that this behavior was wrong, and Harris regrets it. I highly recommend this book for any middle school and high school student.
While we are in the throes of COVID-19, we need to remind ourselves that pandemics are not new and that many of them have been many times more deadly than the pandemic we face today. Our current crises is only eighth (3.4 million deaths) out of others like the Black Death (1347-1351 AD) at number one with 200 million deaths, The Smallpox in the New World (1520-1796) at number two with 56 million deaths, and the Spanish Flu (1918-1919) at number three with 40-50 million deaths. We must also remind ourselves that there will be future pandemics facing humanity.
Nardo gives the reader a look at pandemics of the past and helps us understand what science has learned from them. He also goes into the effect that disease had on the New World, both in loss of life of the indigenous population and the effect on the economy of their deaths. The Aztec people were almost totally wiped out by disease. Since they believed that the diseases were caused by gods and since they noticed that the conquerors were not getting sick (because of the immunity they had developed), many of them turned to the new god as their salvation.
He explains that the need for many laborers to work fields and the lack of indigenous people to do that led to the expansion of the African slave trade. Many Africans, like the Europeans, had developed immunity to the diseases which were killing off the natives. Nardo ends the work with a good discussion of COVID-19 and what has happened so far. He does not take sides on the debates swirling in our society. He provides facts and allows the reader to make his/her own decision. The book has excellent illustrations, a good bibliography and index. I think it will be very useful for middle school, high school, and public libraries.
Teens of all ages need to know that they can make a difference in this world. Not only will they make the world better, they will make themselves better by helping others. Kallen has presented them with many different options ranging from working in a soup kitchen to helping out neighbors. He even discusses the possibility of setting up on-line donations.
One of the things that I particularly like was the list of web-sites that readers could go to to learn more about volunteering. I have supplied the list from the appendix of the book. Check these out to see what each site offers.
The important things in life: love, honor, compassion and hope are revealed through the actions of a young girl who finds herself caught up in the Agon of the gods. Zeus had commanded that all his descendants were to battle to the death during the Agon until only one remained. An Agon could only occur every seven years for only seven days. At the end of that time, the survivors would be allowed to regroup until the next Agon. Ancient families of mortals and demi-gods would serve as the hunters in the next Agon. If one of these mortals killed a god, he/she could take their power and become that god in the next Agon.The children of those ancient families were trained as fighters in special schools. Children who could not fight due to some physical problems served as messengers between families. They wore a special badge to indicate that they were not to be killed.
Lore, or Melora, is a part of the ancient family of Perseous, one of several ancient families of the demi-gods. Lore’s family was destroyed on the last night of the former Agon. She, alone, had escaped the massacre of her family. She wants desperately to be out of the Agon, but Fate does not allow that. She is forced to participate in it when she meets up with Castor, a friend from another family, and Van, a messenger. Together they save the life of Athena. Lore thinks she is binding herself to Athena to destroy the family that slaughtered hers. But she learns that things are not as the seem and that the gods willingly use mortals to achieve their own ends.
This book is a unique take on the gods and goddesses of history. There is much violence and bloodshed, but the author writes about those things in a way that does not sensationalize them. The reader will see two love interests; one heterosexual and one homosexual. These, too, are not sensationalized. There is nothing in the book, except some foul language, that would keep any reader of mythology from wanting to read it. The Agon, as described in the book, is an entire creation of the author, yet it makes the reader wonder, “What if it is true?” I recommend this for readers in high school.
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.
Reyna is nearly finished with her training as a map maker and explorer. She needs to do a major project to finish her studies and become a master explorer, but in a world where women are not accepted in that position, she has to prove that she is capable of what she wants to do. She has been traveling around her world and making maps for a year when the ship she is traveling on is attacked by a pirate ship. She manages to escape from the clutches of the pirates by jumping into the sea and swimming to land. Once there, she encounters a young man who she finds out is the crown prince of that land. Of course he helps her – at least as much as she allows him to. Thus begins a fast-paced adventure involving foreign intrigue, traitorous friends and sirens.
This is a great story of a woman defending her rights and proving her capabilities. While the world that Reyna lives in is a fantasy, it becomes realistic for the reader. The author has provided the reader with a great deal of adventure, a mystery, some mythology, and a little bit of romance. I believe this book is a suitable selection for high school readers.
I recognize that I am reading a review copy, but I would like to point out an observation: Places mentioned in the story are not on the map provided in the front of the book (I like to get a feel of where the action goes, and I could not do that). This might be corrected in the final editing, but the reader should be aware.
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.
This book is actually a sequel to The Forgetting, but it can totally stand alone. In this story over 300 years have passed since the first pioneers from Earth arrived aboard Centauri I at the planet they had called Canaan. Now explorers from Earth have once again arrived on a ship called Centauri III. Their job is to see how the original pioneers have done in building a new civilization on the new planet. They are directed not to interact with the inhabitants – only to observe and report their findings.
Of course, Beckett and Jillian, the two young observers from the ship, find themselves in a situation that demands that they get involved. How they interact with Samara, a girl from the city of New Canaan, moves the story along to a most unexpected conclusion.
The people who live inside of New Canaan are incapable of forgetting anything – even pain and emotions. They remember everything except for what happened 300 years ago. This constant bombardment of remembering leaves them incapable of developing emotional attachments because the loss of someone they love causes them tremendous emotional pain every time they think about that person.
On the positive side, they never forget anything that they have read, seen or heard which makes Samarra extremely important as Beckett and Jillian as they try to find out what really had happened to the people on Canaan and to keep the rest of the explorers on board Centauri II safe.
There is nothing about this book that would cause reservations about its purchase for the high school library. It does contain violent scenes, but sex and language are absent. If you have not already read The Forgetting, you will want to do so after reading this book.
The author leaves the reader wondering about what happened to the ship Centauri II. Another spellbinding tale must be forth-coming.