Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Last Magician

The Last Magician
by Lisa Maxwell
Simon Pulse, 2017, YA Fiction, 512 p
Esta was born with a magical ability to manipulate time.  She was discovered and raised by a man, Professor Lockwood, to be a super-thief of magical objects.  With the help of a powerful artifact, she goes back in time to try to steal the Ars Arcanum, an ancient book that is said to hold the key to destroying the Brink, a barrier that keeps all magicians imprisoned in New York City.  Once back in 1902, Esta discovers that her mission, and everything she was raised to believe about magic and magicians is much more complicated than she ever dreamed. 

This is a high energy fantasy/sci-fi time travel novel for teens.  At 512 pages, the book is a serious time commitment, but it is not hard to finish.  Instead, it is hard to put down. Esta and the other main characters are complex and their fantasy/steampunk world is intense.  Maxwell's plotting is brilliant, with lots of unexpected twists and turns. This is a great choice for people who liked Hunger Games.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Spy School

Spy School
By Stuart Gibbs
Simon and Schuster, 2012, Intermediate Fiction, 290 p.
Ben Ripley is a wiz with math who has dreamed of one day becoming a CIA agent.  His wish seems to be coming true sooner than he could have believed when he is recruited to attend a secret spy academy. His dream job quickly turns into a nightmare as he finds himself in the middle of a plot that has nothing to do with wearing fancy tuxedos, or carrying high tech spy gadgets.  Only his interest in the beautiful and brilliant spy school student, Erica, keeps him in the game, and out of the cross-hairs.

I am a big Stuart Gibbs fan and this one did not disappoint. Ben is an endearing nerd, and Erica is a super cool strong girl character. The school is cool too, with hidden panels, secret entrances, and a maze of a basement. Add in evil spy agencies and double agents and there is everything a spy story lover could want. If you like this one, there are 6 more in the series. (2012, 290 p.)

Friday, April 5, 2019

Magic Hour

Magic Hour
By Kristen Hannah
Ballantine Books, 2006, Adult Fiction, 416 p.

Little girls don't come from the forest. They don't howl, have wolf pups for friends, or run and climb as fast as animals. Chief Ellie Cates doesn't believe it when she gets a call describing the girl who wanders into town, but where did she come from? Who is she? Why is she the way she is?
Dr. Julia Cates left her small town in Washington behind years ago. But now with her career as a child psychiatrist falling apart in LA, she accepts a call from her sister to come work with a mysterious child who wandered out of the woods. 
Girl doesn't know who all the strange people are, she knows she shouldn't have left her cave - but when Him never came back, and the food ran out ... she had to go Out There.

Kristin Hannah is a masterful storyteller who has the power to keep you reading late into the night. She does not disappoint with this story about family, love, and the variety of experiences that make us who we are. Adults who enjoyed other Hannah books such as The Great Alone or The Nightingale will also enjoy this heart-pounding novel. Readers should know that this book contains some adult content and language. This would be a great choice for anyone who wants a good story of fiction that sucks you in and won't let go.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

She Persisted: 13 American Women who Changed the World

She Persisted: 13 American Women who Changed the World
By Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
Philomel Books, 2017, Picture Book
Here is a  collective picture book biography full of "Girl Power." Ms Clinton starts with a short introduction about being a strong girl.  Following that, on each spread, Clinton gives a one paragraph bio and a memorable quote from each of 13 well known American women.  Her subjects are varied and interesting, including crusaders like Harriet Tubman, performers like Maria Tallchief and Oprah Winfrey, and scientists like Virginia Apgar.  Boiger illustrates the book with watercolor and ink drawing that are accessible and child friendly.  This is a great choice for any girl (or woman) who might be facing a challenge and needs a little confidence boost.

Monday, April 1, 2019

I Am Princess X

I Am Princess X
By Cherie Priest
Illustrated by Kali Ciesemier
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015, Young Adult Fiction, 227 p.

Dead friends don't write super popular web comics. Logically May knows that this is true, but what other explanation does she have? How else can she explain why the character she and Libby created years ago is suddenly all over Seattle when Libby has been dead for three years? Unless Libby isn't dead. If Libby survived, is Princess X the way to find her? May is determined to prove that Libby is really alive, but she is not the only one looking for Libby. Someone else wants to find her too, and they will kill anyone who tries to get to her first.

Priest's thriller novel is action packed, with mild violence and swearing, but otherwise clean. Set in the city streets of Seattle, Washington this story ties together the internet, science, comics, and friendship. Parts of the web comic are mixed into the novel as part of the storytelling. What emerges is a gripping and exciting book that is great for both teens and adults. It's a good choice for anyone who has enjoyed graphic novels, also known as comics. This would also be a great introduction for someone who has never tried graphic novels, but is interested in testing one without picking up a book that is completely in comic format.

Friday, March 29, 2019


by Marissa Meyer
Feiwel & Friends, 2012, YA Fiction, 390 p.
Cinder is a teenage cyborg  and some say she is the best mechanic in New Beijing.  She lives with a guardian who basically owns her, and that woman's two daughters.  One of the daughters is Cinder's friend, but the other is as hardhearted as her mother.  One day Prince Kai comes to Cinder's stall at the bazaar and asks if she can fix his droid.  Soon Cinder is sucked into castle intrigue involving a devastating plague, an evil lunar queen, and the mystery of Cinder's own origins.

This is a fast-paced teen sci-fi retelling of the Cinderella story.  Meyer's world building in brilliant and her characters are endearing.  Situations can get intense at times, but Meyer balances out the gritty parts with Cinder's sweet crush on the prince.  This is not a good one to pick up on a day you should be studying for a test at school.  You might have a hard time putting it down.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Pass Go and Collect $200

Pass Go and Collect $200
By Tanya Lee Stone
Illustrated by Steven Salerno
Henry Holt and Company, 2018, Unpaginated, Youth Nonfiction

Have you ever played the board game Monopoly? Where did it all start?
Elizabeth Magie created the game to help people realize how unjust tenant-landlord relationships were in the late 1800's in America.However, the game went through many changes and many more hands before it became the game we know today.

This clever book reveals the confusing history surrounding this popular game. Readers will be fascinated by how the game was used, designed, reused, and redesigned over the years. Who knew that it was used in a college classroom? Or that for years, fans made up their own changes and even rules - and those changes still appear in the version people know today? Though full of facts, this book has beautiful illustrations done in crayon, ink, gouache, and pastel that have been Photoshoped and layered on top of each other. The result is a colorful and interesting book that would be great for anyone who wants to learn little more about Monopoly, board games, or American history.