Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cool

What a cute story! Celeste is an industrious mouse who likes to weave baskets. She is picked on by two mean rats who want her to get them food. Finding food in the Oakley Plantation located near New Orleans, requires a watchful eye for the cat.

Celeste ends up making a home in the show of Joseph, the young apprentice of the artist John Audubon. Joseph shows Celeste kindness. They develop a friendship; Joseph even draws a portrait of Celeste.When Joseph gets hur, Celeste thinks only of going someplace safe, of going home. Celeste ends up going on an adventure outside of the house and meets many new friends along the way.

As the summer is ending, she realizes Joseph will be leaving. She had found such comfort being with him, that she starts to question whether it is worthwhile to make a friend even though they have to leave at some point. She comes to realize that friendship is an important part of the place in which you live feeling like home.

This book is appropriate for new chapter book readers and would make a great read aloud. The pen and pencil drawings throughout the book are very detailed and pull the reader into the story. This book would be a great family read aloud.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Jacinda is special member of the pride to which she belongs. A pride of draki, descended from dragons. The draki and able to shift from dragon to human to help protect themselves. Jacinda has a unique, dormant for genrations talent, so she is considered special. She is meant to marry the son of the alpha draki.

Jacinda and her friend end up almost breaking the most sacred tenet of the pride, so her mother decides to leave the pride before something happens to Jacinda. Jacinda has a hard time trying to adapt until she runs into Will, a human she has meet before.

Will and his family are hunters of the draki. He feels strangely drawn to Jacinda and wants to protect her from everyone that wants to harm her. Jacinda knows that keeping her secret can be dangerous to those she loves, but she will try at whatever the cost.

Firelight explores a world that appeals to lovers of the paranormal. The exciting twists and turns, the character development, and the love aspect keep the story moving at an exciting paste. It was hard to put this book down.

A captivating unique tale of star-crossed lovers. The story of Will and Jacinda definitely generates some heat. I would highy recommend this book for readers 12 and up.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees

I am reviewing a book outside my usual genre. Fool's Girl is a historical fiction book set in the Elizabethian time period. It is the story of young Violetta and the jester Feste.

Violetta and Feste have escaped their pillaged city. They meet the young William Shakespeare and hope that he can help them recover a religious artifact that is important to their city. Through the telling of their story, they intrigue Shakespeare enough for him to help them. The story is based on William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It includes romance, gender bending and intrigue, just like the original work.

The book was a fast read and very entertaining. I would recommend this book for middle school readers and up. This book would be a great follow-up or even introduction to Shakespeare's works.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Pocket Watch by Ronnell Porter

Imogene Stromholdt was having strangely realistic dreams. She then notices someone following her. She hears her father arguing with a strange woman in her kitchen, and then a strange boy with a Scottish accent comes to live with Imogene and her father.

Imogene and her friends are thrown into a strange world of wraiths, magic, vampires and monsters. As Imogene learns about this world and adjusts to becoming a member of the House of Becker, she learns about herself and her history, the good and the bad. Imogene learns that being the only human member of the house of Becker is itself unique. She works hard to make her place.

In the end, she turns out to be the key to saving the world. Imogene has to make some hard decisions that have lasting consequences. She is seen by others as a hero, but doesn’t feel the hero.

The Pocket Watch has many of the elements of a great saga. The main characters are well developed. As you read, you feel connected to Imogene and her feelings. The action scenes are chock-full of action. The twists and turns and trying to discover who is good and who is bad makes you want to continue reading. There is even the hint of a love story.

Although there are places where the story becomes confusing, and there are a few spots when I had to flip back and go “Wait, how did we get here?”, I enjoyed the story. It was reminiscent of Harry Potter as Imogene learned about the magic world around her and worked to discover her place within it.

This book is appropriate for readers 4th grade and up . I would recommend this book to lovers of Harry Potter, Charlie Bone and other magic books. The paranormal elements will appeal to readers of that genre. I thought the back story behind vampires was unique. It will be interesting to see if the vampire story develops in subsequent stories.