The Book Jumper

Glaser, M. (2017). The Book Jumper. NY: Feiwel & Friends.

This is one you’ve got to read if you’re a bibliophile and you liked the concept of Inkheart. In The Book Jumper, Amy Lennox and her mother pick up and travel from 29102939-2Germany to her grandmother’s house on the Scottish island of Stormsay. She’s not looking forward to it, and upon arrival her grandmother already has one rule in place – she must read. Except Amy discovers she has the power to jump into books and interact with the characters! In fact, she discovers her family shares this skill and they are also keepers of an antiquated library. Amy quickly learns that a book jumper’s duty is to insure important ideas aren’t stolen from books; indeed, there is a book thief on the prowl. She meets another book jumper, Will, and together they travel from world to world, meeting famous characters and fighting to save crucial ideas before the books themselves are lost forever.

Incredibly crafted and plot-driven, this story is unique enough to keep you happy. I especially found myself wrapped up in the Gothic island setting.

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Little Monsters

Thomas, K. (2017). Little Monsters. NY: Delacorte Press.

Little Monsters is a guilty pleasure thriller from Kara Thomas that reveals how teenage girls are capable of taking their emotions and actions to an extreme level. Set during a 32320750Minnesota winter, Kacey Young has recently moved out of her unstable mother’s house to her father’s house with a warm welcome from her step mother, step brother, and half sister. They truly want what is best for Kacey, who has lived a tough life and has some dark secrets. Along with all of these changes, Kacey is also adjusting to a new school and making friends.

Very quickly, Bailey and Jade become her besties, showing up at her window one night to sneak her out to a haunted, abandoned barn for a seance, with Kacey’s younger half sister unexpectedly tagging along. The town’s legend of the Red Woman adds a slice of horror to the plot, and when Bailey goes missing following a party the next night, a convoluted psychological mystery Continue reading

Agatha Christie Graphic Novels Series (24 books)

Hughot. (2007). The Man in the Brown Suit. (Agatha Christie Graphic Novels #10). NY: HarperTorch.

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What?! No one told you there were Agatha Christie graphic novels? Well it’s true, and they are delightful, especially for the Christie connoisseur. Let’s take a look at The Man in the 2489221-1.jpgBrown Suit. When a man is killed by a tube train, a young woman initiates an investigation to solve the mystery. This adaptation holds more charm than it can handle but reader beware, if you haven’t familiarized yourself with Christie’s writing, you’ll be missing out on the fullness of the characters and the rich, detailed story, both of which can not possibly be done justice in a comic strip of this length. However, if you are a Poirot or Marple or Tommy and Tuppence fan, go ahead and partake with abandon. Luxuriate in the art deco-esque illustrations and ignore the thinner plot.

We Are Okay

LaCour N. (2017). We Are Okay. New York: Dutton Books for Young Readers.

We Are Okay‘s entrancing cover with a girl standing on her bed looking out into the ocean is perfect for this psychological mystery told through flashbacks. Marin is at 28243032university in upper state New York, having fled from California and the very people who love and want to support her following her Gramps’ death. Truly an orphan now, it’s turns out to be the secrets Marin encountered, slowly revealed to us, that made her abruptly leave home and cut off all ties.

When the story begins Marin is staying on an isolated college campus over winter break. Her roommate, Hannah, just left for Christmas, and now she is expecting a visit from her best friend, Mabel. As you may imagine, the December New York setting is stark, cold, and isolated, ready to match Marin’s depression. We aren’t privy to the background of Marin and Mabel’s relationship, yet like the rest of the story it Continue reading

And Then There Were Four

Werlin, N. (2017). And Then There Were Four. New York: Penguin Random House.

Five prep school kids are tossed together under mysterious circumstances. When one is 32074843-2murdered, they begin talking and piecing together what they know about their families, and a terrifying idea surfaces. What if they are all targets? The premise is classically entertaining, mimicking Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, when a group of strangers are assembled on a remote island only to be murdered one by one.

The chapters alternate between two of the five friends, Saralinda and Caleb, she speaking in the present tense, he in the past for some reason, but both pushing forward the pace of the story. Nancy Werlin knows how to create complex characters whose voices captivate us. We become swept up into the mystery as they go on the run from their cloistered, island-esqe school to an actual island, Fire Island in New York. Here there are no cars, only dirt paths through tall grass, and little Continue reading

The Lie Tree

Hardinge , F. (2015). The Lie Tree. New York: Amulet Books.

Costa Book Award for Children’s Book (2015)
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction (2016)
Andre Norton Award Nominee Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy (2016)
Carnegie Medal Nominee (2016)
Costa Book of the Year (2015)
YA Book Prize Nominee (2016)

Faith Sunderly’s family flees Kent, England for a small and unknown island in order to avoid social gossip surrounding her father’s work, thus providing a dreary backdrop. Historical fiction from the Victorian 26118377Era, The Lie Tree takes the adventure story and flips it on its head with a feminist twist. Gender stereotypes are annoyingly prevalent, yet Faith is a strong, intelligent character (“When every door is closed, one learns to climb through windows.”), reminding me much of the young, budding scientist, Calpurnia in The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jaqueline Kelly. Except The Lie Tree is a fantastical fairy tale. Let me explain.

Faith’s father is a natural scientist and is found murdered on the island shortly after the family moves. Investigations lead Faith to discover Continue reading

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Lockhart, E. (2008). The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. New York: Hyperion Book CH.

National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (2008)
Michael L. Printz Award Nominee (2009)

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E.Lockhart, showcases Frankie, our highly intelligent heroine, who arrives as the new kid at private school her father used to attend, where he participated in a super secret society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. The 22745205esteemed society intrigues Frankie to no end and she suspects her new boyfriend, Matthew Livingston, of not only belonging but also being president.  Frankie has quickly raised her social status by dating Matthew, who is wildly popular and good looking, but their relationship is nowhere near perfect. Matthew is arrogant, secretive and he transparently puts his friends’ needs above Frankie’s.

Frankie longs to make her mark, and becomes quietly outraged that girls have historically been excluded from the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. She’s disappointed that the boys seem only interested in partying and their reputations, and she determinedly sets off to figure out the club’s oldest, forgotten secret. Frankie’s sleuthing around at night and single handedly pulling off extreme, brilliant pranks around campus are the really fun parts of the book. However, the true strength of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is the straightforward and interesting manner E. Lockart presents issues of power, gender, and risk taking.