Monday, August 23, 2010

Charlie Bone and the Red Knight by Jenny Nimmo

If you would like to see my review for book one of this series please click here: Midnight for Charlie Bone. If you haven't read the rest of the series, or in the middle of reading it, there are some minor spoilers regarding the series below. So feel free to read everything except the "Opinions" section.

Title: Charlie Bone and the Red Knight (Book 8 The Children of the Red King series)
Author: Jenny Nimmo
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: mid-grade fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Some battle scenes
Premise: Charlie and the Children of the Red King must call upon all of their strength to defeat the darkness and finally learn the fate of Charlie's family, the evil intentions of the Bloors, what has become of Septimus Bloor's will, and the destiny of the Red King's heirs. (King County Library System)
Opinions: Finally a series that I've loved that is now finished. Yes, it is true. This is the last book in the series. So anyone who prefers to hold off reading a series until it is all finished and published, then now is your time to delve into this series. YAHOO!!! Now I may be about to create an avalanche of criticism for what I am about to say, but I will brave the criticism and speak my mind. I love the Harry Potter rocks. HOWEVER...this series beats it hands down in my book. Written for a slightly younger audience than the Harry Potter series this book still delves into a world of modern fantasy. Also like Harry Potter it is about a young boy with special powers who is being sent off to a school to hone that talent. However, unlike Harry Potter this school is Bloor's Acadamy, which hosts only a small amount of endowed children (known as the Children of the Red King). The remainder of the school is filled with regular children gifted in various aspects of the arts. So Charlie works with both endowed and unendowed in the battle against evil. Another aspect that is different is that each endowed child has a different ability allowing each one to compliment the others' abilities as they strive to overcome those endowed who are on the side of evil rather than good.

In this, the last and final installment of the Children of the Red King series, Charlie must decide whether or not to forgive old enemies in order to fight against the Bloors and their evil companions as they strive to take over the entire city with the help of ancestors who have been drawn to the present. Dealing with more and more adversaries, Charlie also struggles with wondering why his parents are on vacation instead of helping him to fight evil. I love how this story deals with struggles on multiple levels and learning how to trust and believe in others. Through all 8 books I have been intrigued by the characters, the plot, and the imagery. Jenny Nimmo has done a fantastic job and a large part of me is sad to see it come to an end. Of all the mid-grade series I have read, The Children of the Red King series is in the top 5 favorites of all time for me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Title: Windblowne
Author: Stephen Messer
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Hapless Oliver, who lives in the trees in the town of Windblowne, seeks his eccentric great-uncle Gilbert's help in creating a kite for the all-important kite festival, but when Gilbert suddenly disappears, Oliver is guided by one of Gilbert's kites in a quest through different worlds to find him.
Opinions: I have to admit that I read this book because of the cover. *hangs head in shame* I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but something about this cover appealed to me and so I checked it out from the library. Then it sat on my "to read" pile until it was almost due back at the library. I started reading it this morning and I just finished it and I have to say I was so glad that I loved the cover. "Windblowne" is the story of Oliver and a village of treehouses (I love this idea!). Most of the villagers are very good kite flyers, but not Oliver. He desperately wants to be a flier, but he doesn't have the talent for it. Seeking the help of his great-uncle Gilbert leads Oliver on this really cool adventure through parallel worlds. I couldn't put it down. It is compelling and interesting and well written. Plus the imagery is vivid and tingly. This is a great book (with a great cover, too).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum

To read my review of book one in this series please click here: The Hourglass Door.

Title: The Golden Spiral (Book 2 of the Hourglass Door series)
Author: Lisa Mangum
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Some violence
Premise: When Dante, a Master of Time, is sent into the past to find Zo, Tony, and V, Abby knows that he will need her help to prevent the trio from destroying time itself, but soon things start to change as Zo targets Abby's past (King County Library).
Opinions: I love the first book in this series, The Hourglass Door, as it was unique to anything else I had ever read. Now having read The Golden Spiral I can say that Lisa Mangum has jumped tremendously in my list of favorite authors. Her writing ability has greatly strengthened through this book and I had a hard time putting it down (when life doesn't force me to anyway). The story of Dante and Abby becomes even more compelling and I'm drawn to their characters even more. I desperately want to tell you more about this book but it would give too much away. One warning though, once you read it you will be hooked, however the final installment of the story, The Forgotten Locket, isn't scheduled to be released until next summer. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Not again! Why do I torture myself so?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Title: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s television game show, "The $20,000 Pyramid," a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space." (King County Library System)
Opinions: To be honest, I've read this book twice. The first time I read it, I was lukewarm to it. However, the second time I really enjoyed it. I know that part of the reason I didn't enjoy it the first time was because of the extensive uses of Madeline L'Engles' "A Wrinkle in Time" (which is not my favorite book). I think I had a hard time getting past it. However, the second time I really enjoyed reading it. It is a unique story of Miranda and some puzzling and mysterious notes that she can't seem to figure out. This is an interesting story that deals with time travel, racism, friendship and cause and effect. I really enjoyed this book (the second time) and hope you give it a chance (or two).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

Title: Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
Author: Wendy Mass
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: Adore
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: Just before his thirteenth birthday, Jeremy Fink receives a keyless locked box--set aside by his father before his death five years earlier--that purportedly contains the meaning of life.(King County Library System)
Opinions: After reading this book I began looking around and seeing keys. I was suprised how often and how many keys I see everyday. Jeremy is looking for the four keys that will open a box that will give him the meaning of life from his deceased father. Through the book Jeremy tries to decide what the meaning of life is and why we are on this earth. Jeremy and his best friend search for keys and answers to life as they come across some fairly eccentric individuals. I liked that this book had a fun story but also dealt with some serious issues. I would have to say that I cried at the end. Wendy Mass is a great writer. I have always loved her writing style and feel that she is one of the fabulous authors that is a great storyteller and writer.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

Title: Countdown
Author: Deborah Wiles
Reviewer: Stephanie
Genre: Documentary Fiction
Rating: WORSHIP!
Alerts/Warnings: The subject deals with the fear of nuclear war. It is a clean book, but be aware of the subject material.
Premise: "Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that's hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around just waiting for a bomb to fall. It's 1962, and it seems the whole country is living in fear..." (King County Library System
Opinions: I LOVED this book. This is one of the best books I've read this year. This is the story of the Cuban missle crisis and how it affects a young girl, Franny, and her Air Force family. The story was compelling and interesting. I liked that the story was not about just the threat of nuclear war, but the life of this girl and how she was affected by it and was still living her life. One of the absolute coolest things about this book was the format. Mixed throughout the story were pictures, quotes, lyrics and biographies of important people, events and songs. I truly got a feel of 1962. This is the best example I've ever read of Documentary Fiction and I hope everyone takes the time to read this amazing book.