Book & Audio Review: Flunked!

It’s time for another audio book review!  If you like fairy tales, a little bit of villainy, and a dose of magic…Flunked is a book you should like!

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By Jen Calonita, Narrated by Kristin Condon
5 CDs, 5.25 Hours

Gilly isn’t a bad kid, but she is a thief.  It’s not like she has a real choice…she has five brothers and sisters and lives in a boot.  True, her father is a master cobbler, but there’s no longer a demand in the kingdom for shoes made by hand.  Magic slippers are all the rage.   So Gilly HAS to steal…her thievery provides extra food to keep her siblings fed and healthy.  And if she steals something special for a birthday gift here and there…well, it’s not like the stuck up royals will even notice that something is gone.  They’ll just replace it, right?

But when Gilly steals from the wrong royal, in the wrong shop, she’s found out.  And since it’s her third offense, she’s sentenced to Fairy Tale Reform School by Headmistress Flora, formerly the Evil Stepmother.  Princess Ella even signed the order.   There’s nothing Gilly or her siblings or even her parents can do about it.

But Fairy Tale Reform School — FTRS for short — isn’t anything like Gilly expected.  Sure, their mission is “To turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes”, and Gilly expects to be stuck in a dungeon and fed bread and water while being lectured about being good.  But there is no dungeon (for the students anyway) and instead of being stuffed in the toe of a boot with all five siblings, Gilly has a spacious room with only one roommate, delicious and plentiful food, and classes on everything from magic to history to sports.

Of  course, Gilly doesn’t like following rules, even if they do kind of make sense.  And she wants to go home to take care of her siblings; even the promise that they can visit her doesn’t make things much better.  She does start making some friends though, and as they pool their information together about what they know about the school and how they might escape, they discover a mystery.  Who is trying to sabotage the school?   Are their lives in danger?  Gilly and her new friends Jax, Kayla and Maxine may be reluctant students of FTRS, but they will have to put their heads together and use all the somewhat illegal skills they have to get to the bottom of this mystery.

flunked trilogyThe audio recording of Flunked was  quite charming.  (heh!)   Flunked is a first-person story, so everything is relayed through Gilly.  The narrator has the perfect voice for Gilly…young, a little bit inquisitive, scrappy…and reluctantly impressed with her new surroundings.  Her voice for other characters, seen through Gilly’s eyes, are varied by accent, pacing and attitude.   Letters from Gilly to her family, notes from teachers and The Happily Ever After Scrolls–updates on the action at the school, as reported by a nosy reporter for FairyWeb- enhance the story and give an outside view of the action.

Flunked is the first of the Fairy Tale Reform School trilogy, followed by Charmed and Tricked.  I would recommend the series for kids who like an off-beat take on fairy tales, an anti-hero heroine, or just an entertaining read.  Fourth through seventh grade readers would enjoy the book, while the audio would probably work with second grade and through adults.

Some read alikes include Sarah Mlynowski’s Whatever After series, Shannon Hale’s Ever After High series, Soman Chainani’s School for Good and Evil series, and Suzanne Selfor’s Ever After High series (apparently a popular series title!)

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So pick up book, or the whole series, and enjoy!  If you like it, let us know!

As always, if you need help finding books or audio books to read, ask one of our librarians.  We’re always happy to help!



Booklist — Daring Girls! (in Honor of our Very Special Author Visit)

Booklist—Girls who Adventure!

In celebration of our visit from Caroline Carlson, author of Magic Marks the Spot, here’s a booklist of girls who leave society behind to do their own thing!

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magic marks the spotCarlson, Caroline.  Magic Marks the Spot
Pirates! Magic! Treasure! A gargoyle?   Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for thirty-seven minutes. She can tie a knot faster than a fleet of sailors, and she already owns a rather pointy sword. There’s only one problem: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates refuses to let any girl join their ranks of scourges and scallywags.  But Hilary is not the kind of girl to take no for answer. To escape a life of petticoats and politeness at her stuffy finishing school, Hilary sets out in search of her own seaworthy adventure, where she gets swept up in a madcap quest involving a map without an X, a magical treasure that likely doesn’t exist, a talking gargoyle, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous—and unexpected—villain on the High Seas.

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The Other Books:
          (Many of them have sequels or are the first book in a trilogy or a series, so make sure you look for the other titles!)

Amaranth EnchantmentBerry, Julie.  The Amaranth Enchantment
When a mysterious piece of jewelry and a strange visitor arrive within minutes of each other  in the jewelry shop where she works for her evil aunt, Lucinda’s course takes a surprising turn. With the help of the Amaranth Witch, a young (and harmless) con-artist, and a prince, Lucinda uncovers secrets about her own royal past.

wrappedBradbury, Jennifer.  Wrapped
Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown on the lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season.  This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy; it’s a host for a secret unleashing mystery, international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.

kat incorrigibleBurgis, Stephanie.  Kat, Incorrigible
Katherine Ann Stephenson has just discovered that she’s inherited her late mother’s magical talents, and despite Stepmama’s stern objections, she’s determined to learn how to use them. But with her eldest sister Elissa’s intended fiancé, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat’s magical potential; her other sister, Angeline, wreaking romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, Kat’s reckless heroism will be tested to the utmost. If she can learn to control her new powers, will Kat be able to rescue her family and win her sisters their true loves?

runaway princessCoombs, Kate.  The Runaway Princess
King Stromgard offers his daughter’s hand in marriage and half his kingdom to the prince who can rid the kingdom of evil and restore peace and prosperity to our realm.  But Princess Margaret is not your traditional princess. Meg firmly objects to her parents’ giving her away, and she certainly has no intention of remaining in the tower where she is sequestered. Instead, she sets out to win the contest herself by enlisting the help of her good friend, her loyal maid, an eager guardsman, a young wizard, and a tenacious witch. Does Meg find her distinct place in the kingdom, or is she doomed to fulfill her royal duties?

bewtching seasonDoyle, Marissa.  Bewitching Season
In 1837 London, young daughters of viscounts pined for handsome, titled husbands, not careers. And certainly not careers in magic. At least, most of them didn’t. Shy, studious Persephone Leland would far rather devote herself to her secret magic studies than enter society and look for a suitable husband. But right as the inevitable season for “coming out” is about to begin, Persy and her twin sister discover that their governess in magic has been kidnapped as part of a plot to gain control of the soon-to-be Queen Victoria. Racing through Mayfair ballrooms and royal palaces, the sisters overcome bad millinery, shady royal spinsters, and a mysterious Irish wizard. And along the way, Persy learns that husband hunting isn’t such an odious task after all, if you can find the right quarry.  YA

howls-moving-castleJones, Diana Wynne.  Howl’s Moving Castle
Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl–and herself–than first meets the eye.

alex and the ironic gentlemanKress, Adrienne.  Alex and the Ironic Gentleman 
A student at the prestigious Wigpowder-Steele Academy, Alex is often mistaken for a boy because of her haircut, but that’s okay—she has an excellent sense of humor.  As much as she enjoys learning, she doesn’t enjoy anything else about school. Luckily for Alex, the new school year brings an exciting new teacher. Mr. Underwood makes lessons fun and teaches her how to fence. But Mr. Underwood has a mysterious family secret and not everyone is glad he has come to school. When the pirates of a ship called The Ironic Gentleman kidnap him, Alex sets off on a journey to rescue him, along the way encountering a steady stream of hilarious and colorful characters!

piraticaLee, Tanith.  Piratica 
Artemesia is the daughter of a pirate queen, and she’s sick of practicing deportment. Escaping from her school, she hunts up her mother’s crew and breezily commands them out to sea in a leaky boat. Unfortunately, Art’s memories of her early life may not be accurate-her seasick crew are actors, and Art’s infamous mother was the darling of the stage in a pirate drama. But fiery Art soon shapes her men into the cleverest pirate crew afloat. And when they meet the dread ship Enemy and her beautiful, treacherous captain, Goldie Girl, Art is certain that the Seven Seas aren’t large enough for two pirate queens!  Art will have the battle of her life and the race for the most fabulous treasure in pirate lore. YA

flora segundaWilce, Ysabeau.  Flora Segunda
Flora knows better than to take shortcuts in her family home, Crackpot Hall–the house has eleven thousand rooms, and ever since her mother banished the magickal butler, those rooms move around at random. But Flora is late for school, so she takes the unpredictable elevator anyway. Huge mistake. Lost in her own house, she stumbles upon the long-banished butler–and into a mind-blowing muddle of intrigue and betrayal that changes her world forever. Flora has to deal with soldiers, Dainty Pirates, amazing hounds, magical potions and a magical butler who may be her undoing.

dealing with dragons (2)Wrede, Patricia.  Dealing with Dragons
The youngest of seven beautiful princesses in the kingdom of Lindenwall, Princess Cimorene wants more out of life than to be the wife of a boring, proper prince. Tired of her sedate existence, she takes up fencing, cooking, Latin, even magic. But each endeavor is ended with the admonition that “princesses just don’t do that.” Faced with marriage, she decides it’s time to find some adventures of her own and runs away, ending up as the dragon Kazul’s princess, and finding adventure, danger, and challenges galore.  It turns out that the life of a dragon’s princess is exactly what Cimorene needed!

mairelon the magicianWrede, Patricia.  Mairelon the Magician
Kim doesn’t hesitate when a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into the travelling magician’s wagon in search of a silver bowl. Kim isn’t above a bit of breaking-and-entering. Growing up a waif in the dirty streets of London has schooled her in one hard lesson: steal from them before they steal from you. But there is something odd about this magician. He isn’t like the other hucksters and swindlers that Kim is used to. When he catches her in the act, Kim thinks she’s done for–until he suggests she become his apprentice. Kim wonders how tough it could be faking a bit of hocus pocus. But Mairelon isn’t an act. His magic is real.

sorcery and cecelia (2)Wrede, Patrica & Stevermer, Caroline.  Sorcery & Cecelia
A great deal is happening in London and the country this season. For starters, there’s the witch who tried to poison Kate at the Royal College of Wizards. There’s also the man who seems to be spying on Cecelia. (Though he’s not doing a very good job of it–so just what are his intentions?) And then there’s Oliver. Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn’t bothered to tell anyone where he is. Clearly, magic is a deadly and dangerous business. Strange forces are convening to destroy a beloved wizard, and only Kate and Cecelia can stop the plot. And the girls might be in fear for their lives . . .if only they weren’t having so much fun!

Weston Public Library
March 2014
Kelly Wood

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And there you have it–a list of some remarkably determined young women!  After reading Caroline’s book, try one of these others and get lost in a magical adventure!

And don’t forget to join us tonight and hear Caroline talking about her writing experience.caroline magic marks the spot3

New Kids and Teens series E-books!

Following up our post from Tuesday, here are our new series E-book titles.

To download an e-book title, go to and click on the Download Audiobooks EBooks Overdrive button.  Click on the Sign in button (it’s very important to do this first!) then just follow the directions.  (If you sign in first, you’ll see the books that are only available to Weston residents.)  To get one of the books on this list, click on the links below or simply search the digital catalog.

While you’re there, browse the Minuteman collection too, and see what’s available.  There are plenty of good reads!  Minuteman just added the Disney Digital e-books to our collection; these titles are always available…which means that multiple readers can read these books at the same time, and you never have to place a hold.  There are plenty of picture books, easy readers and adaptations of Disney movies, but there are also books for tweens and teens.  Just start exploring.

And…on to our new E-book series:

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The Blue Envelopes Duo, by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes
13 little blue envelopesWhen Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes, she knows something exciting is going to happen.  Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket. Envelope 2 has directions to a specific London flat. The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist. Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again? What Ginny doesn’t know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.

The Last Little Blue Envelope
last little blue envelopeGinny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.
Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.


The Delirium Series, by Lauren Oliver

deliriumThey say that the cure for Love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie. 
It’s the near future, a time when love has long since been identified as a disease called amor deliria nervosa, and 17-year-old Lena is 95 days away from the operation that everyone gets to cure themselves. Enter Alex, a rakish daredevil who, as it turns out, is one of the Invalids—a tribe of uncured who hide out in the surrounding wilderness. With the clock ticking down to her surgery, Lena is drawn into Alex’s world, one of passion and freedom. As their romance blossoms, Lena begins to doubt the intentions of those in power, and fears that her world will turn gray should she submit to the procedure.

pandemoniumThe old life is dead. But the old Lena is dead too. I buried her. I left her beyond a fence, behind a wall of smoke and flame.
In this electrifying follow-up, set six months after the events in Delirium, Lena is on a dangerous course.  Her life hurtles through the unregulated Wilds and into the heart of a growing resistance movement and nightmarish predicaments, with a new set of characters and ever-shifting situations.. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

(So far the third book, Requiem, is not available as an e-book.  It is available as a downloadable audio book though.)


The Divergent Series, by Veronica Roth

divergentIn Beatrice Prior’s world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

insurgentOne choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

The third book, Allegiant, is coming out on October 22, 2013!


The Wicked Lovely Series, by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely
wicked lovelyRule #3: Don’t stare at invisible faeries. Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.
Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible faeries. Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.
Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention. But it’s too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires. Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Ink Exchange
ink exchangeUnbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Courts has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow.
Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life. The tattoo does bring changes—not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. . . .

fragile eternityFragile Eternity
With summer approaching, Aislinn finds herself increasingly attracted to Keenan, the Summer King who stole Aislinn’s mortality to make her a monarch.  Yet Aislinn clings to her love for human Seth, refusing to release her connection to the mortal world. Seth wants to be with Aislinn forever, but he knows that Aislinn’s immortality will eventually separate them; and he pursues a dangerous remedy as tensions within Faerie increase and allegiances shift.    In this third mesmerizing tale of Faerie, Seth and Aislinn struggle to stay true to themselves and to each other in a milieu of shadowy rules and shifting allegiances, where old friends become new enemies and one wrong move could plunge the Earth into chaos.

So far, the other books in the series, Radiant Shadows and Darkest Mercy, are not available as e-books in our network.  You can get the real books at the library though!

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The Septimus Heap Series, by Angie Sage

magykThe seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this myster ious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus? Readers will set out on a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters and magykal charms, potions, and spells. This is a story of lost and rediscovered identities, rich with humor and heart.

It’s been a year since septimus heap discovered his real family and true calling to be a wizard. As Apprentice to Extra Ordinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand, he is learning the fine arts of Conjurations, Charms, and other Magyk, while Jenna is adapting to life as the Princess and enjoying the freedom of the Castle. But there is something sinister at work. Marcia is constantly trailed by a menacing Darke Shadow, and Septimus’s brother Simon seems bent on a revenge no one understands. Why is the Darke Magyk still lingering?

When Silas Heap unSeals a forgotten room in the Palace, he releases the ghost of a Queen who lived five hundred years earlier. Queen Etheldredda is as awful in death as she was in life, and she’s still up to no good. Her diabolical plan to give herself everlasting life requires Jenna’s compliance, Septimus’s disappearance, and the talents of her son, Marcellus Pye, a famous Alchemist and Physician. And if Queen Etheldredda’s plot involves Jenna and Septimus, then it will surely involve Nicko, Alther Mella, Marcia Overstrand, Beetle, Stanley, Sarah, Silas, Spit Fyre, Aunt Zelda, and all of the other wacky, wonderful characters that made magyk and flyte so memorable.

The other books in the series, Queste, Syren, Darke and Fyre are available as e-books through the Minuteman Digital catalog.  Let us know if you would like the Weston Library to order those e-books too!

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And there you have it…our new e-book series titles.  If you have any suggestions for other titles we should have, let one of our librarians know.  In the meantime, happy e-reading!


Teens: If You Liked The Hunger Games

Feed by M. T. Anderson

In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious trouble.

Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card

Book 1 is Ender’s Game.  A veteran of years of simulated war games, Ender believes he is engaged in one more computer war game when in truth he is commanding the last fleet of Earth against an alien race seeking the complete destruction of Earth.

Graceling series by Kristin Cashore

Book 1 is Graceling.  In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king.

Selection by Kiera Cass

America Singer is chosen to compete in the Selection–a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea’s prince–but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, who is a caste below her.

Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

Book 1 is City of BonesSuddenly able to see demons and the Darkhunters who are dedicated to returning them to their own dimension, fifteen-year-old Clary Fray is drawn into this bizzare world when her mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a monster.

Matched series by Allyson Condie

Book 1 is Matched.  All her life, Cassia has never had a choice. The Society dictates everything: when and how to play, where to work, where to live, what to eat and wear, when to die, and most importantly to Cassia as she turns 17, whom to marry. When she is Matched with her best friend Xander, things couldn’t be more perfect. But why did her neighbor Ky’s face show up on her match disk as well?

After the First Death by Robert Cormier

Events of the hijacking of a bus of children by terrorists seeking the return of their homeland are described from the perspectives of a hostage, a terrorist, an Army general involved in the rescue operation, and his son, chosen as the go-between.

Maze Runner series by James Dashner

Book 1 is The Maze Runner.  Sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up with no memory in the middle of a maze and realizes he must work with the community in which he finds himself if he is to escape.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, seventeen-year-old Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.

Incarceron series by Catherine Fisher

Book 1 is Incarceron.  To free herself from an upcoming arranged marriage, Claudia, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, a futuristic prison with a mind of its own, decides to help a young prisoner escape.

Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia

Book 1 is Beautiful Creatures.  In a small South Carolina town, where it seems little has changed since the Civil War, sixteen-year-old Ethan is powerfully drawn to Lena, a new classmate with whom he shares a psychic connection and whose family hides a dark secret that may be revealed on her sixteenth birthday.

Eon series  by Allison Goodman

Book 1 is Eon.  Sixteen-year-old Eon hopes to become an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune and learn to be its main interpreter, but to do so will require much, including keeping secret that she is a girl.

Gone series by Michael Grant

Book 1 is Gone.  In a small town on the coast of California, everyone over the age of fourteen suddenly disappears, setting up a battle between the remaining town residents and the students from a local private school, as well as those who have “The Power” and are able to perform supernatural feats and those who do not.

Among the Hidden series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Book 1 is Among the Hidden.   In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family’s farm, until another “third” convinces him that the government is wrong.

The Enemy series by Charlie Higson

Book 1 is The Enemy.  After a disease turns everyone over sixteen into brainless, decomposing, flesh-eating creatures, a group of teenagers leave their shelter and set out of a harrowing journey across London to the safe haven of Buckingham Palace.

Brave New World by Alexander Huxley

The astonishing novel Brave New World, originally published in 1932, presents Aldous Huxley’s vision of the future-of a world utterly transformed. Through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, people are genetically designed to be passive and therefore consistently useful to the ruling class. This powerful work of speculative fiction sheds a blazing critical light on the present and is considered to be Huxley’s most enduring masterpiece. Following Brave New World is the nonfiction work Brave New World Revisited, first published in 1958. It is a fascinating work in which Huxley uses his tremendous knowledge of human relations to compare the modern-day world with the prophetic fantasy envisioned in Brave New World, including threats to humanity, such as overpopulation, propaganda, and chemical persuasion.

Homelanders series by Andrew Klavan

Book 1 is The Last Thing I Remember.  High school student Charlie West awakens bloody and bruised in a concrete bunker, only to discover that he has lost a year of his life and remembers nothing about escaping from prison after being convicted of murdering his former best friend, or why he is being pursued by both the law and a group of terrorists trying to bring down the government of the United States.

Epic series by Conor Kostick

Book 1 is Epic.  On New Earth, a world based on a video role-playing game, fourteen-year-old Erik pursuades his friends to aid him in some unusual gambits in order to save Erik’s father from exile and safeguard the futures of each of their families.

The Lorien Legacy series by Pittacus Lore

Book 1 is I Am Number Four.  On New Earth, a world based on a video role-playing game, fourteen-year-old Erik pursuades his friends to aid him in some unusual gambits in order to save Erik’s father from exile and safeguard the futures of each of their families.

The Giver series by Lois Lowry

Book 1 is The Giver.  Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi

Ostracized or incarcerated her whole life, seventeen-year-old Juliette is freed on the condition that she use her horrific abilities in support of The Reestablishment, a postapocalyptic dictatorship, but Adam, the only person ever to show her affection, offers hope of a better future.

Legend series by Marie Lu

Book 1 is Legend.  June and Day make their way to Las Vegas where they join the rebel Patriot group and become involved in an assassination plot against the Elector in hopes of saving the Republic.

Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr

Book 1 is Wicked Lovely.  Seventeen-year-old Aislinn, who has the rare ability to see faeries, is drawn against her will into a centuries-old battle between the Summer King and Winter Queen, and the survival of her life, her love, and summer all hang in the balance.

Wake series by Lisa McMann

Book 1 is Wake.  Ever since she was eight years old, high school student Janie Hannagan has been uncontrollably drawn into other people’s dreams, but it is not until she befriends an elderly nursing home patient and becomes involved with an enigmatic fellow-student that she discovers her true power.

Acceleration by Graham McNamee

Stuck working in the Lost and Found of the Toronto Transit Authority for the summer, seventeen-year-old Duncan finds the diary of a serial killer and sets out to stop him.

Cinder by Melissa Meyer

As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story.

Host by Stephenie Meyer

The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. But Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves–Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she’s never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness

Book 1 is The Knife of Never Letting Go.  Pursued by power-hungry Prentiss and mad minister Aaron, young Todd and Viola set out across New World searching for answers about his colony’s true past and seeking a way to warn the ship bringing hopeful settlers from Old World.

Birthmarked series by Caragh O’Brien

Book 1 is Birthmarked.  In a future world baked dry by the sun and divided into those who live inside the wall and those who live outside it, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone is forced into a difficult choice when her parents are arrested and taken into the city.

1984 by George Orwell

While the totalitarianism that provoked George Orwell into writing ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ seems to be passing into oblivion, his harrowing, cautionary tale of a man trapped in a political nightmare has had the opposite fate, and its relevance and power to disturb our complacency seem to grow decade by decade.

Maximum Ride series by James Patterson

Book 1 is The Angel ExperimentAfter the mutant Erasers abduct the youngest member of their group, the “bird kids,” who are the result of genetic experimentation, take off in pursuit and find themselves struggling to understand their own origins and purpose.

Life as We Knew It
series by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Through journal entries sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family’s struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

Delirium series by Lauren Oliver

Book 1 is Delirium.  Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love.

Across the Universe series by Beth Revis

Book 1 is Across the Universe.  Teenaged Amy, a cryogenically frozen passenger on the spaceship Godspeed, wakes up to discover that someone may have tried to murder her.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

Book 1 is The Lightning ThiefTwelve-year-old Percy Jackson learns he is a demigod, the son of a mortal woman and Poseidon, god of the sea.  His mother sends him to a summer camp for demigods where he and his new friends set out on a quest to prevent a war between the gods.

Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi

Book 1 is Under the Never SkyAria and Perry, two teens from radically different societies–one highly advanced, the other primitive–hate being dependent on one another until they overcome their prejudices and fall in love, knowing they can’t stay together.

Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Book 1 is Divergent.  In a future Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomoly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan

Book 1 is The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  Through twists and turns of fate, orphaned Mary seeks knowledge of life, love, and especially what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where dwell the unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead.

Unwind series by Neal Shusterman

In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives “unwound” and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs–and, perhaps, save their own lives.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Nineteen-year-old returning champion Sean Kendrick competes against Puck Connolly, the first girl ever to ride in the annual Scorpio Races, both trying to keep hold of their dangerous water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.

Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater

Book 1 is The Raven BoysThough she is from a family of clairvoyants, Blue Sargent’s only gift seems to be that she makes other people’s talents stronger, and when she meets Gansey, one of the Raven Boys from the expensive Aglionby Academy, she discovers that he has talents of his own–and that together their talents are a dangerous mix.

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld

Book 1 is The UgliesJust before their sixteenth birthdays, when they will be transformed into beauties whose only job is to have a great time, Tally’s best friend runs away and Tally must find her and turn her in, or never become pretty at all.

Paranormalcy series by Kristen White

Book 1 is ParanormalcyWhen a dark prophecy begins to come true, sixteen-year-old Evie of the International Paranormal Containment Agency must not only try to stop it, she must also uncover its connection to herself and the alluring shapeshifter, Lend.

Old Favorite: Dark Lord of Derkholm

October is my favorite month of the year.  Changing leaves, pumpkins, apples, Halloween, Halloween costumes…  When I was a kid, I usually based my Halloween costume on favorite stories and books.  I remember the year I was Dorrie quite well; it took a long time to find two pairs of different colored striped socks and a stuffed black cat for Bink!  With all the Harry Potters out there today, it’s obvious that people still find their inspiration for costumes in books.

But what if finding a costume was more serious that just once a year, for fun?  What if your life depended on it?  In Diana Wynne Jones’ Dark Lord of Derkholm, a whole world’s livelihood depends on the strength of their costumes.  And on their acting abilities.  And athough that might sound like fun, for the brothers and sisters in this tale, it really isn’t.

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Mr. Chesney is the most powerful man in the world.  In several worlds, in fact.  His  business to to bring groups of Mr. Chesney’s Pilgrim Party Tours from the overdeveloped, over mechanized outer realms to a poor world where magic works.  His hold over the world started forty years ago, and involved blackmail, threats and a demon.

No one  actually likes Mr. Chesney or his Pilgrims.  For one thing, everyone has to pretend to be something they’re not if one of the Pilgrim Parties is in town.  For another, every year, people are forced to play the Dark Lord and his minions.  During that year, the wizard  must act evil, perform evil deeds, and in the end, be defeated by the Pilgrim Parties in a huge, epic battle.  Even worse, the tourists in the Pilgrim Parties don’t actually know that most of the evil henchmen and magicians are farmers, soldiers and normal wizards forced into playing the part under duress.  It’s a dangerous job, and everyone–from farmers to  soldiers to thieves, elves, and dragons– agree that Mr. Chesney must be stopped. Even though that means risking the wrath of a creature who has the power to destroy their world completely.

When Querida, the High Chancellor, and her cohorts in the High Council of Wizards’ University consult with the Oracles, the only help the Oracles can give is that the next Dark Lord must be the first person Querida sees, and the second person will be the Wizard Guide, who leads the Pilgrim Parties around the world and who is supposed to keep all the tours running smoothly.  Even though this mysterious prophecy doesn’t seem very helpful, the Council is sure that both these people will be powerful wizards, able to defeat the evil Mr. Chesney.

But the first person Querida sees is the disorganized and kind Wizard Derk; the second is his 14-year-old son Blade.  And suddenly, Derk, Blade and the whole of Derkholm, from family to servants to  merchants and townspeople are embroiled in a magical mess.  Derk has to reform the family castle into a pit of despair and doom, as well as coordinate armies, magical creatures and other magicians while trying to save his people from too much devastation.  The whole family is dragged into the act. Although no one likes the idea, they’re resigned to a year of no crops, no income, destroyed farms and sacrifices.  And then Derk is hurt in an accident with a dragon.  With his wife Mara’s help, Derk still might be able to pull off the role of the Dark Lord…but what about Blade?

Even though Blade is still a teen, his job of shepherding the Pilgrims around the world and dealing with Mr. Chesney might be even more dangerous. Especially now, when his parents can’t help him.  Luckily, his sister Shona is willing to drop out of Bard college to help him.  And their brothers and sisters: Elda, Lydda, Don, Callette, Finn and Kit have some great ideas too.  So what if they’re griffins, not humans?  But Mr. Chesney is grimly determined that magical creatures, even related ones, must be evil.  His actions toward Don, Callette and the others put them all in terrible danger.  Blade and the others might squabble, but they’re a family.  The siblings become more determined, and their goal is clear. Derk needs help, Blade is in trouble, and what Mr. Chesney doesn’t know won’t hurt him.  But the question is…will it hurt them?

As Blade goes out with the first group of Pilgrims, he’s not sure quite what to expect.  Pretty quickly, he learns that he’s in over his head. The tourists seem to have their own agenda,  it’s not so easy to pretend to be an ancient wizard, even behind a long white beard that apparently, ALL wizards wear, and it’s hard to pretend that  your wounded and kind father is an Evil Overlord of Doom.   Even worse than that though, Mr. Chesney seems to have seen through their deception.  While trying to play their roles, Blade and his brothers and sisters find themselves in danger.  Trying to defeat Mr. Chesney at the same time that they’re protecting their father and their friends from his wrath is no picnic!

Will these unusual siblings prevail?  Or will the implacable Mr. Chesney and his menacing weapon–a demon–win?  Read and find out!

* * *

I just love all of Diana Wynne Jones’ books, and Dark Lord of Derkholm is among my favorites.  If you’ve ever read any kind of fantasy novel with a dangerous quest at the heart of it, you’ll laugh as you read the descriptions of what Derk’s people have to go through to create this illusion.  You’ll never look at fantasy in quite the same way!

The siblings in this story–human and griffin–each have distinct personalities and goals.  They squabble like most brothers and sisters, in spite of the magic.  Best of all, when problems arise, they work together.  Derk and Mara are wonderful, loving parents, happy with their children and each other, and quite in over their heads with their evil taskmaster.  Mr. Chesney is a horrible enemy; cunning, controlling and commercial.

So if you like a splash of humor in your dangerous fantasy world, try Dark Lord of Derkholm.  There’s also a sequel, called The Year of the Griffin.  Both are wonderful!


Old Favorites: Wren to the Rescue

Quests are always a fun topic for an adventure book. The more dangerous the adventure, the more exciting the read.  What’s not to like?  Daring heroes, impossible tasks, magical mischief, mistaken identities and more await every lucky reader.

Wren to the Rescue, by Sherwood Smith, is full of all of these elements…and more!

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Wren was left at a mountain orphanage when she was just a baby.  At nine, she was transferred to Three Groves Orphanage because of overcrowding.  At Three Groves, she learns how to clean, cook, mend and do farm tasks.  Wren would rather learn how to read and write, act or go on adventures!  But Wren is stuck in life as an orphan; when she’s twelve, she’ll be hired out.  Until then though, she makes a name for herself creating stories and sticking up for other kids.  She meets another orphan, Tess, when she rescues her from some of the bigger orphanage bullies.  Three years later, Wren and Tess are still best friends, doing everything together.

So when Tess announces that she isn’t really an orphan at all, but a princess in disguise, Wren is amazed.  Tess has been under a curse and in hiding from an evil sorcerer the entire time she’s known her!  Wren is completely envious that Tess–quiet, shy Tess–is about to go to the palace to live in luxury and have grand adventures.  Tess though, would rather stay an anonymous orphan with her best friend. When she asks Wren if knowing she’s a princess changes Wren’s opinion of her, Wren tells her of course not. But she does think that their personalities are better suited to each others positions.  Fortunately, Tess isn’t angry–she knows it’s true.

Tess asks Wren to join her–not as a maid servant, but as her friend. Wren promptly agrees, and both girls are magically whisked away by Mistress Leila, one of the orphanage teachers who is actually Tess’ aunt, to the Magic School.  There, Tess meets with her parents and learns that she’s not completely out of danger.  But, reassured by the precautions the King and Queen have taken, the royal family and Wren return to the Palace.  But the curse seems to come true when, during the preparation for her 13th birthday, Tess vanishes. Kidnapped!

Wren saw the person who took Tess, and she saw the magic that was used.  But no one listens to her; they think she’s just a poor girl.  So Wren repeats the phrase she heard Mistress Leila use, waves her hand the same way, and is transported to the Magic School, where she meets a young wizard.  This wizard can’t seem to perform magic reliably, and is stunned to learn that Wren can do a difficult spell just from hearing it one time.  He also has a best friend, another boy training to be a warrior.  They’re willing to listen, so Wren tells them all she knows of Tess’s disappearance.  All three bond over their worry about Tess, and soon Wren, Tyron and Connor are defying the King and setting out on a quest to find and rescue her.

But Wren doesn’t know that both her traveling companions have secrets.  She also isn’t quite sure what to do with the magical abilities she seems to be developing; will they help or hinder in the search for Tess?

Facing evil magicians, enchanted beasts, and magical warriors led by an enchantress, Wren leads the boys over the mountains on a continuing mission to find Tess.  But when her magic backfires, will Wren be able to continue on her quest?  Only by finding Tess and confronting her evil captors will Wren find the answers to her questions.

* * *

Wren to the Rescue was written in 1990, and was followed by two other titles, Wren’s Quest and Wren’s War. The trilogy stopped with some unanswered questions, so I was happy to see that there is now a fourth book, Wren, Journeymage available online through the author’s website.

Although there are princesses and evil sorcerers, dragons (well, sort of) and potential romance aplenty, it’s refreshing to meet a heroine who starts out with no special status or powers.  She’s not a princess or a magician herself, but an ordinary girl with determination, stubbornness and  principles.  Wren is the power behind the quest, the one who organizes the other rescuers, the one who is motivated by to find her friend.  She consults with the boys, but is usually the one they turn to to make important decisions.

If you like quest stories, spunky heroines and magic, you’ll love Wren to the Rescue.  So what are you waiting for?  Read it and find out!


Audio/Book Reviews: Four fantasy titles!

Traveling during vacation gave me a lot of time for listening.  My preference is usually fantasy, and so that’s what I read!  Er…listened to.  These four were not my favorites (in fact, one is the worst audio book I’ve ever listened to!) but the other three were pretty solid choices.

* * *

Eyes Like Stars
by Lisa Mantchev, Read by Cynthia Bishop and the Full Cast Family
8 CDs, 8 hours, 30 minutes

Bertie lives in The Theatre Illuminata…she has all her life.  As a baby, she was left on the doorstep, and The Company joined together to raise her.  She lives on the stage (although she has to get off for performances) eats with the crew in the Green Room, and gets her clothing (and hair dye) from Wardrobe.  She has everything she needs to live a full life…or does she?

The problem with living in the Theatre is that no one can leave. Whether it’s Ariel from The Tempest, Nate from The Little Mermaid, or Cobweb, Peaseblossom, Mustardseed and Moth, Bertie’s fairy companions from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, not one of them has ever made it past the EXIT sign.  Only the mysterious Ophelia claims to have returned to the Theatre from Outside.

So when Bertie manages to get into enough mischief to alienate the Theater Manager, the Stage Manager, and Mr. Tibbs, the Properties Master, she is in terrible trouble.  These three, who never agree on anything, band together to tell Bertie that she will have to leave the Theater and the only life she has ever known.  At the protests from some of the Company, she is given an out: if she can find an invaluable way to contribute to the Theater, she will be allowed to stay.

Bertie is determined to find a way to keep her home, even if she has to turn it upside down to do so. And she has help from several of the players.  The only problem is…are they trying to help her, or help themselves?

The audio recording was done by Full Cast Audio, who have one reader for the narrative sequences, and different actors reading the voices of the characters.  I love the Full Cast Audio recordings, because I find them very easy to listen to–sort of a cross between a play and an audio recording. It’s nice to have male characters reading male voices, female characters reading female voices, and children who sound like children.  This production company always manages to make the best match-ups in voices.  The director of the production makes sure that the mood of the scenes are reflected in the voices, and the action sequences have a faster pacing that the slow scenes.  I loved the reading.

I’m not quite sure about the intended audience for this book though. It seems to be aimed at a middle school audience, but there is an assumption that the reader (or listener) has enough background to know who the Shakespearean characters (from at least five plays) are, and what their stories are.  There is also quite a bit of information that relies on knowing the background of a stage production.  And I was confused a bit about what is covered by the Theatre.  Is it all plays, or just classic plays?  It’s not just Shakespeare, because a bunch of characters from The Little Mermaid (the Disney version, as far as I can tell) are also thown into the mix. The internal logic of Bertie’s world seems a little flimsy, under close observation.

This book is the first book of a trilogy about Bertie. She’s an interesting and opinionated character, strong-willed and imaginative.  I am curious about the rest of her story, so the audio/book did succeed in making me want more.

This would be best for kids in middle and high school who are interested in theater production, Shakespeare and putting on a play.

* * *

The Demon King: A Seven Realms Novel
by Cinda Williams Chima, Narrated by Carol Monda
13 CDs, 15.25 Hours

Han Alister is a child of the streets in the city of Fellsmarch.  He does get a slight break from the city though…for some reason his mother has always sent him into the mountains in the summer, to spend the summer months at the Marisa Pines Camp with the Clans.  Between his two homes, Han has been a street lord, a thief, a ragpicker, a healer, a merchant and a warrior.  Because of his younger sister Mary though, Han has vowed never again to steal or practice his darker crafts, wanting something better for her and his Mam.

But when walking through the mountains with his friend Fire Dancer of the Marisa Pines Camp, Han sees three wizards start a fire on the sacred mountain. That is something neither he nor Dancer can ignore. They stop the young wizards, and to keep one from killing Dancer, Han demands his jinxpiece. The arrogant young wizard finally hands it over, and the boys leave them to try to deal with their out-0f-control magical fire.  Han has no idea that this encounter will change his life forever.

Inthe palace, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna is the Princess Heir, destined to rule the Queendom after her mother. She has no idea of the conditions  the poor people in her queendom live with on a daily basis. But when her childhood friend, Amon, returns from a three-year apprenticeship to take his rightful position in the Guard, Raisa convinces him to let her go into the city to see what are the issues her people must deal with.

Han is one of her people, running from the guard, who accuse him of murder, from the demons, who are hunting for him, and from his destiny, which is wrapped up in the jinxpiece he stole from the young wizard.  When he is cornered, he kidnaps Raisa, thinking she is a governess called Rebecca Morley.

Will Han be able to escape his pursuers? Will Raisa be able to help her people?  Will these two very different teenagers, separated by their circumstances, be able to work towards peace?

I really enjoyed the narration of this audio book. Carol Monda manages to keep track of dozens of characters and give each a different voice, relying on speech patterns, cadence and accents.

The story alternates between Han’s and Raisa’s stories; they know many of the same people, but from very different perspectives. When the story starts, both characters are fifteen, and headed towards their name days, the day where they turn sixteen and take on adult responsibilites.  Because of their circumstances though, both are already responsible for not only their own lives and destiny, but for many other people. Headstrong and proactive, they may be at odds, but they’re both trying to do the right thing.

I would recommend these books to kids in middle school and high school, and even adults who enjoy a good fantasy series. A good fifth grade fantasy fan would be able to enjoy them too.  There are currently four books in the series; I believe there will be seven titles.

* * *

The Exiled Queen: A Seven Realms Novel
by Cinda Williams Chima, Narrated by Carol Monda
16 CDs, 17.75 Hours

This is the second book in the Seven Realms series.  Han and Raisa are both escaping from the queendom, Han because everyone he knows in the city has been murdered, Raisa because her mother tried to marry her off to a wizard, forbidden by the agreements put into place after The Breaking, a thousand years ago.

Both head to school at Oden’s Ford, where wizards, soldiers, diplomats, musicians and talented students are trained.  There, Han is set to learn wizardry, while Raisa, in disguise as Rebecca Morley, learns warfare, culture and diplomacy.  Both are concentrating exclusively on their studies, ignoring the social opportunities that the school offers. Neither knows the other is at Oden’s Ford, although they do have several friends in common.  Until one day, their paths cross again…

Like the first book, this is a wonderfully imagined fantasy.  There were a few times when I wanted to shake both characters (and a few of the minor characters as well) and tell them to stop being so pigheaded and open their eyes!  But that’s a minor quibble.  I still want to read or listen to the rest of the series, although I may take a break for a bit.  They’re long, and I need a little variety!

Again, these would be enjoyed by fantasy fans of all ages. Adults might find the teenage angst a little frustrating, but this would make a good listen for a car trip for a family with older kids.

* * *

written by Colin Meloy, performed by Amanda Plummer
13 CDs, 15 Hours

Prue is a normal sixth grader with a horrible secret. When she was supposed to be watching her baby brother Mac, he was carried off by a murder of crows, lifted right off the playground and taken into the Impassable Wilderness on the outskirts of Portland.  Prue managed to keep the secret of what happened from her parents overnight, and the very next day she sets out to find her brother.

With help from Curtis, a super-hero drawing aquaintance with too much curiosity for his own good, the two find their way into the Wildwood, hoping to find Mac. Braving coyotes, magic, brigands and evil nannies, they bravely search for Mac.  Prue knows she can’t return home without him, but can she survive finding him?

Okay, this is it. The worst audio book I have ever attempted to listen to.  The story is full of adventure, danger and cliffhangers…but the narrator reads with a child-like lisp, her voice sing-songy and seemingly unconnected with the events of the story.  I couldn’t tell the differences between the characters at all. The pace was all over the place…slow in action scenes, slightly faster in slow scenes.  It was so soft that I couldn’t understand what the narrator was saying when I was driving.  I gave up.

Wildwood might work as an audio book for someone who is trying to go to sleep and doesn’t care about what the voice is reading.  But if you want to experience the adventure that this book offers, you’ll have to read it or find someone with a better grasp of the story to read it to you.

I never expected to write a review like this!  When I went back to the library and read the book, I realized that the reason for the narration style is provided in the last sentence of the story.  Unfortunately, that was too long for me to wait.  Maybe this issue is just with me, so if you listen to this audio book and enjoy it, let me know!

* * *

And that’s it.  Next week, we should return to our regular schedule of Old Favorites on Tuesdays, the Teen Open Book newsletter every other Friday, and other reviews as we finish reading or listening.  Also keep your eyes out for our favorite summer reviews by students in the Summer Reading Program.

Until then, happy reading!