New Book Reviews
Reading Level: Grades 4-6
Lucy is thrilled. Once her bossy older sister Regina leaves for college, Lucy will have their shared bedroom to herself. Lucy spends hours dreaming of the make-over she will give the room. Her decorating plans are ruined when her mother announces that Lucy's long-lost Chinese great-aunt (the one Lucy didn't know existed) is coming for an extended stay and will be sharing Lucy's room.
IThe trials of another reluctant roommate are chronicled in:
Reading Level: Grades 8+
When Sophie is assigned to interview four new students for the "Welcome Back" issue of the school paper, her curiosity is piqued when Vlad rudely refuses to speak to her. Her concern intensifies when Vlad takes an obsessive interest in Sophie's half-sister. As Sophie's investigations continue, she finds herself treading a path of dangerous horror.
Other dark tales of supernatural creatures include:
Reading Level: Grades 7+
The year is 1984. Fifteen year old Maya packs a suitcase for a trip to India with her father. They are going to lay Maya's recently deceased Hindu mother to rest. Not long after they arrive, however, tumultuous religious differences between the Sikhs and Hindus explode into violence when prime minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated.
Maya and her father, a Sikh, are caught in the middle of the clash and separated when their hotel is attacked. Afraid for her safety because of her Hindu-Sikh parents and her sex, Maya quickly hacks off her long ponytail with a pair of scissors and runs, forgetting her mother's ashes in the hotel room.
The next hours are harrowing for Maya as the riots swell around her, Sikhs and Hindus fighting unrelentingly around her. When she finally emerges from the violence, rescued by a kind desert family but traumatized into muteness, it is only the 17-year old son, Sandeep, devoted to helping Maya find her father, that can save her again.
This historical fiction romance in diary-format free verse will have you turning pages back again and again to reread Maya and Sandeep's words and longing for more after the end. Karma is fraught with emotion, culture, violence, religion fear, but most importantly, family.
Other novels you might like:
For older readers:
Reading Level: Grades 6-9
14-year-old Sherlock Holmes is thrust into a deadly adventure when he is sent to live with eccentric relatives during the school holidays
Other engrossing Holmesian spin-offs include:
Reading Level: Grades 2-3
When J.J. Tully, a retired search and rescue dog, agrees to help a frantic mother hen find her missing chicks, he finds himself locked in a desperate struggle with an evil dachshund named "Vinnie the Funnel."
Other intrepid animal detective tales include:
Reading Level: Grade 7-9
Boaz Katznelson was a great athlete, talented student and all round high school golden boy. He was accepted to Cornell, Berkley, Tufts and Columbia Universities. His family was stunned when he announced he wasn’t going to college, he was enlisting in the Marines. Soon Boaz was overseas…after a few months, he stopped writing home. When Boaz finally came home, he walked straight upstairs and shut the door. He hasn’t been out in three weeks. Levi and his parents have waited three long years for Boaz's return. But he is no longer the brother Levi thought he knew. Even if nobody else wants to see it, Levi knows something is seriously wrong.
When Boaz announces he's off to hike the Appalachian Trail, Levi knows he's lying. So Levi follows, hoping to figure out how to save the brother he once adored.
Other stories of difficult brothers include:
Reading Level: Grades 6-8
According to people in his hometown, Jeffrey Alper is a hero. The 8th grader knows he isn't a hero. He's just the local "cancer kid" who had managed to stay alive since he was four years old. He's alive...yes. But Jeffrey has not escaped unscathed. The poisonous chemotherapy he has received over the past decade has left him with a limp and a serious learning disability. Two things that make it even more difficult for Jeffrey to be a "normal kid." This school year is even harder because his big brother Steven, the guy who got him through all the years of cancer treatment and pain has taken off to join a "drumming circle" in Africa leaving Jeff alone to navigate the trials of school, first love and an irascible best friend.
Other tales of kids dealing with cancer include:
Reading Level: Grades 6-8
The Bartimeaus trilogy chronicled the demon's misadventures while under the control of an 11-year-old magician. In this prequel Stroud shares one of the djinni's earlier adventures as the very reluctant slave of the evil Khaba, an ambitions magician in the court of King Solomon who rules Jerusalem with the help of the powerful slave of the ring.
As usual Bartimeaus's intelligence and snarky attitude land him in a world of trouble after he rescues Asmira, a "hereditary guard" who was sent by the Queen of Sheba to assassinate Solomon, from desert bandits. Instead of eating her, he spares her life setting into motion a disastrous series of events which may well result in the end of the ancient world.
For another entertaining djinn series try::