Book of a Thousand Days

Another great work by Shannon Hale! I fell instantly in love with Dashti, a Mucker (you have to read the book to find out what that is!) who lived on the steppes of ancient Mongolia before becoming a lady's maid. When the Lady she serves is imprisoned in a tower, Dashti is locked up with her and keeps a journal of their imprisonment. This is a lovely, compassionate book with faceted characters and beautiful setting. I thought I had this book figured out in the beginning, and I was delighted to be wrong. LIke all of the Shannon Hale novels I've read so far, the heroine is strong and caring and will win you over. Great read-out-loud!

Author: Shannon Hale

Jack of Fables, vol. 2

If you aren't familiar with Bill Willingham's Fables, you're missing out. This graphic novel series follows the lives of Fables living in a secret section of New York City. Snow White runs the town (although King Cole is officially the mayor) and they are plagued constantly by the Advesary who originally drove them from their fable Homelands. I couldn't read these fast enough. Thank god there were the Jack of Fables spin-offs or I would be very sad indeed. The two graphic novels entitled Jack of Fables detail the exploits of Jack Horner (AKA Jack of beanstalk fame, Jack the Giant Killer, and even Jack Frost).

Authors: Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges

The Golden Compass

I just reread this book, and liked it even more the second (or third?) time around. I wanted to be all brushed up before I go to see the movie. As with almost any book, I'm sure the movie will never equal the richness of the written text (the one exception is the Princess Bride, which I thought was a stupid book but one of the greatest movies of all times), but I'm looking forward to it none-the-less. I'm a total Philip Pullman fan, so I expect I will gripe and fawn in equal parts over the Golden Compass movie. I never realized what a fantastic read-out-loud book this is, but I began reading it to my daughter and we both found it enchanting. The book on CD is also very enjoyable; it's supported by a full cast (who are much more authentic than my fake Cockney and London accents, but my daughter doesn't seem to care). The complexity of the Dark Materials plot lends itself well to frequent re-reading. Even this time through I caught things I didn't previously. So if you haven't already, dust this off and curl up with a blanket and cup of coffee before going to see it in the theaters.

Author: Philip Pullman

FOLLOW-UP: I saw the movie. It was actually better than I expected. The film rearranged some sequence of event that worked to not only condense the plot but make it more linear and focused; and the conflict between the Church and free will was made much more clear. I admit that the books left me working harder to discern the importance of Dust, the reason the Maagestrium was after the control of Dust and the purpose of the Intercisions. The movie actually clarified a lot for me. The morphing of Pan and the other daemons also worked very well. Yay!

The Woman Who Rides Like A Man

I'm so totally hooked on this series. They transport me every time, and I love the journey. This is the third book in the Lioness Quartet, and I think they're just brilliant and pulpy in the best sort of way. Alanna is a great heroine and I think her love life is so fun: should she marry Jonathan, the hasty prince who has been her lover but who might want to marry for the wrong reasons?; or should she side with George the King of Thieves, who loves her completely but has a dangerous life style? We still don't know. But Alanna stays true to herself and follows her heart, even if it may take her away from both of them.

Author: Tamora Pierce

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Holy. Smokes. Bravo, Sherman Alexie, on this spectacular first novel for young adults. Of course the minute I learned this book had come out I went out a bought it in hardcover (eeks!) because I want to support our local authors, even if they're already superstars. If you've ever read a Sherman Alexie novel before, you'll already be prepared for his depressing sense of humour and tongue-in-cheek descriptions of life as a Spokane Indian. If this will be your first time entering Alexie's rez, brace yourself for an emotional ride that skids just above the suface of sarcasm and leaves you going WTF?!? but in a good way. I think. It's hard to tell. This morbidly funny diary details a year in the life of Arnold Junior Spirit, who decides to venture off the rez and become the first Indian student in an all-white school. This novel wouldn't be half of what it is without the fantastic drawings by Ellen Forney. This is a fast read, and a compelling story for all ages.

Author: Sherman Alexie
Illustrations by Ellen Forney


I started planning what to say about this book as soon as I got a few pages in to it, but I still don't know exactly what to think. It's gotten a lot of hype, and according to my middle school librarian source it's fairly controversial because of its purportedly erotic nature. On the one hand, this book never would have made it onto my bookshelf if it hadn't been well-publicized as being edgy, because it is a teen vampire novel. Gag me. But the other interest I had in it was the setting, which takes place mere few hours from my hometown here in the Pacific Northwest. Forks, the town in which the novel is set, really is an ex-logging town on the Olympic Peninsula, and I enjoyed reading the lush descriptions of local forests, beaches, and, of course, weather. The book centers around two teenagers, Edward and Bella, who are in love. It's giving away nothing to say that Edward's a vampire, since the book's jacket says so in the first sentance; however, it takes Bella the first hundred pages or so to figure it out, and the rest of the book she spends all googley-eyed and loopy at his amazing vampire-ness. I can see how this could be a sensuous novel to a young reader, but there are very convenient limits to how far their relationship can go: they cannot really kiss; they cannot have sexual relations; they cannot get too excited around one another or else he might eat her. There's the basic tension for the whole of the novel. In fact, I found their relationship to be extremely suffocating. Often I rolled my eyes thinking to myself, "how can they possibly be so glued at the hip? How can anyone keep up that level of intensity and inseparability?" Ah, but you know? It's a teen vampire novel. Enough said, I guess. But as much as I could rant about the book and it's somewhat under-developed characters, it's mushy main lovebirds, the annoying repetition of different variations of "he's so perfectly beautiful and his breath smells so good and his eyes are so amazing and he drinks grizzly bear blood", there was something that also held my attention. I don't know what it was, but I couldn't put this book down. In fact, I may even read the sequel. I can't explain it. Maybe there's just something so parasitic and mysterious about teen love and obsession that it just makes sense.

Spirit Walker

When I first heard about the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series it was through this book. I was drawn to it because a rave review from my favourite local bookstore, but also because the cover art looked so Pacific Northwest. It is, in fact, supposed to be set in a more nordic setting, but I couldn't help but think of ancient times in my own backyard San Juan islands. Hey, we have Orcas too, you know. Once again Torak, Renn and Wolf must vanquish a terrible evil that threatens the Forest, and this time their trek leads them to the Sea. Michelle Paver's dedication to first-hand research made the setting come alive for me, and I saw many elements of Haida and Inuit cultures sprinkled throughout the novel, but never too heavy-handed, which was refreshing. Although these book are a little predictable, I still enjoy being transported to a fresh-scented outdoor world filled with spirits, demons, and lots of adventure. I put this in the "Mist of Avalon" catagory, but I would liken it most to Clan of the Cavebears.

Author: Michelle Paver

Flora Segunda

There is a lot of honesty in this book, although it is sometimes covered up by too much effort to create a parallel world. Once you get past the jargon and the altered realities, you meet a girl who is different enough to be compelling. There are nice touches that made this book stand out for me: her mother is a hard-core military hero (which is different); her father is an alcoholic nutjob who lives in the attic; and the house comes with its very own immaterial servant who ends up nearly stealing our heroine's life force. It could almost be a metaphor of not giving ones self away to easily to please others, but I think I was reading too much in to it. Fun, strange...that about sums it up.

Author: Ysabeau S. Wilce


Are you getting tired of the girl-meets-talking-bear theme yet? Yeah, me neither. This was a terrific novel that wove in elements of Nordic mythology and fantasy together with a strong heroine and compelling story. Bears, weaving, family, solitude, evil sorceresses...all great themes that kept me up way past my bedtime. This would be a great book to curl up with on a cold, snowy day.

Author: Edith Pattou


They're going to make a movie of this, aren't they. Sigh. Oh well. Read the book anyway. It's good. Book characters come to life, heroine must stop them, evil is evil, good is good; all in all a fun read that takes you across a well-drawn European landscape (ah, Italy especially) and kept me engaged throughout.

Author: Cornelia Funke


I get the hype. This book was excellent. It's not technically sci-fi or fantasy, but I felt compelled to read it because of the press it has received, as well as the success of the sequel and journal.

I connected to this book on a personal level for many reasons; I've always been strangely drawn to Arizona, and I see a very strong part of myself in both Stargirl and in Leo. I think the simultaneous desire to fit in and yet stand out—or better yet, stand out and be loved for it—surpasses middle school or high school culture. We can all identify with that, which made it a beautiful read for me as an adult. Hardly any books about high school would find their way onto my bookshelf at this particular time, namely because you could not pay me enough to be a teenager again (don't get me wrong, I loved it. And I would not wish it on anybody all the same breath. Maybe I'll read some trashy teen lit when my daughter is *eeks* in high school).

Anyway, far from being just a cathartic novel about being different, this novel has something truly unique to it, something that captured my heart as easily as Stargirl captured Mica High School. It helps that it is beautifully written. It helps that the characters are, for the most part, fresh and real (with the slight exception of the wizened old man who sits on his porch smoking a pipe). I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever been to high school, who has/had a child in high school, or who wishes they could forget about high school. Basically, anyone. It's a fast read and worth the poetic mental trip to the warm, Arizona desert.

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star

As sequels go, I found this to be a strong and entertaining follow-up on the very popular Fablehaven. Seth and Kendra must go back to Fablehaven (for their own protection, of course) and get into the usual this-could-be-the-end-of-Fablehaven disasters. While Seth didn't annoy me as much this time, he still is his usual out-of-control self, and Kendra is once again the reluctant hero, although this time she posesses fairy powers. The trouble I had is that she hardly ever USES her amazing fairy-ness, so I'm hoping her magic powers will blossom in the third book, due out in 2008. Entertaining, a little convoluted in some places, and overall a very enjoyable book.

The Hollow People (The Promises of Dr. Sigmundus, Book 1)

Strange book of the Hidden Hero persuasion. A young boy who has so far been treated like garbage discovers he has amazing powers of control over theenigmatic Odylic force (which was a concept explored by real-life scientist Baron Karl von Reichenbach in the 1800s). It has a ring of Jedi Knight-ness to it. The tone of the book is dark and unworldly, with just enough unique narrative detail to make it stand out. It is, by the way, the first of a series which I abruptly found out when the book ended quite suddenly and on a major cliffhanger. Drat.

In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness)

I picked this sequel up the moment I finished Alanna: The First adventure and read it in one day! I'm totally hooked! I've only read these two books of Tamora Pierce's many titles, but I would say that at this moment I am a fan. I loved that the main character, who is a young woman in disguise (althoughyou'd think that by the time she hasn't grown a beard or had her voice drop her friends may have figured it out) separates sex from love. It's, I think, an unusual concept for a YA book, but I really loved it. It's such a nice spin-off from the conservative idea of abstinence and sex-before-marriage-and-only-if-you're-in-love crap. It was very subtle, and I appreciate that Pierce has given young women an alternative to the hype of sex and made it seem totally natural. Alanna, the main
character, still struggles with love and trust throughout the book which is a welcomed tension. Also, as her closest friends discover she is really a woman, they accept her as much if not more than they already had. No ostracizing here, which is a great message to young women, and even grown women. We all need reminding that we are
wonderful and powerful just for being ourselves.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Alanna: The First Adventure

It took me a while to get in to this book. For one, the copy I got from the library had the dumbest looking cover. It looked like a bad 80's book about horses. I finally bought my own edition that has a less-dumb looking cover and I must say that I've really enjoyed this book. Even though I'm a total tom-boy, it's sometimes a hard sell for me to appreciate a heroine who must prove her strength by completely denying her feminine nature and becoming fully masculine. There is the tension of those who know her secret identity as a woman telling her that she will only be happy if she fully accepts herself, so there is that. Of course, I haven't read the last few chapters yet, and there are many more books in this series, so I could be premature in my judgment. Regardless, I've really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who liked East by EdithPattou or Mists of Avalon by Marian Zimmer Bradley.

Author: Tamora Pierce

The Various

Quaint. Yes, quaint is a good word. Young girl discovers hidden fairy world in her own backyard. I thought it was a good read; it's one of the first ya fantasy book that I read while I was waiting for the next Harry Potter book to come out. There are over-arching messages of conservation, animal kindness, loyalty, and I think it would be a good read-out-loud book. The cover art is beautiful. I absolutely judge a book by its cover, and this author-drawn design is one of the reasons I picked up the book in the first place. If you enjoy books about secret gardens and fairies and quaint britishness and enjoy immersing yourself in a gorse-and-heather sort of landscape (who doesn't?) then this book should definitely find its way on to your bookshelf.

Author: Steve Augarde


This sequel to The Various was not exactly what I was hoping for. It didn't grip my attention the way the first did, but instead left me wanting. The story goes back in time, actually, to explore the life of Celandine, who was considered the family kook because she believed fairies lived in the back brambles, and after reading The Various, we know that she was right. To be fair, I moved on after only a few chapters of this book, so for all I know it gets much better. If you make it through, let me know.

Author: Steve Augarde

Septimus Heap: Magyk

Engaging, but repetitive. If you've just finished
Harry Potter, DON'T read this, because the similarities will annoy you.
It's actually a decent book, just not that original. Seventh son of a
seventh son plot (there must be something truly magical about that,
because I see that theme a lot), unknown hero, witches,boggarts, evil things. Fun, but you've read it before. If, however, it's that kind of thing you've read before but can't get enough of,definitely check this book out! It's followed by Flyte and Physik.

Author: Angie Sage

The Goose Girl

This is based on a fairy tale that I've never read,but it doesn't matter. It's a great tale about a usurped princess who must live in the guise of a goose girl at the castle until she can rightly prove her identity. It turns out she makes a pretty good goose girl, considering she can talk to birds. There's not much that will come as a surprise plot wise, but there is plenty to delight in with rich writing, beautiful descriptions, a strong heroine, and a classic—yet unique—story.

Author: Shannon Hale

Wolf Brother

Beautiful nature descriptions await you in this first of three novels by Michelle Paver. Set in the Stone Age, it's a mix of Clan of the Cave Bear, Princess Mononoke and Lord of the Rings (thematically, anyway. Obviously not as epic). There's even a Gollum kind of character about halfway through the book that I actually think is pretty unnecessary,
but oh well. It's a good story anyway. Another boy/girl save the world
combo (aided by a wolf, which actually works. Usually I tend todislike
books where one of the main characters is an animal), with the boy
being the central character in a quest to rid the Forest of an enraged
demon. This could have been a really trashy book full of stereotypes;
instead, it is a refreshing, well-described, uniquely fleshed-out world
that had me reaching for the sequel . It is followed by Spirit Walker and Soul Eater

Author: Michelle Paver

The City of Ember

Boy/Girl combo must save world, but no one listens to them because they're kids. Sigh. Is this a common theme because it's easy to write or because it's true? Anyway, City of Ember does a great job of creating a world that is slowly dying. The writing is well-paced and subtle details bring to mind a fully-formed, dark grey world with memorable characters, flushed out with just the right amount of mystery. When I was younger I lived in Siberia, and the City of Ember actually reminded me a lot of small-town Soviet Union. Basically, girl and boy must escape a world that is quickly falling into darkness, and hold the sole key to salvation. Again, the mother in me is quick to gasp at the idea of bringing a little tiny toddler along on their dangerous journey (I know, I'm paranoid), but it's okay; she's fine. I didn't get into the sequel (the People of Sparks). I tried, but it just didn't have the same mystery to me as the first. It doesn't quite matter, though; the first was a good story all on its own.

Author: Jeanne DuPrau

The Dark Hills Divide: the Land of Elyon, Book 1

I always love books with good heroines. This girl talks to animals. So that's fun. This book touches on themes of questioning authority, animal kindness, and personal strength, all of which are coninuously great themes to read no matter what age you are. Alexa is an enjoyable character to follow as she discovers what lies beyond the dark, guarded walls that enlose the town she has always lived in. It's the first in a series of books about the land of Elyon. I guess I wasn't inspired enough to pick up the second yet, but there are memorable details of this story that encourage me to eventually re-visit the series. Harry Potter fans will see a lot of similarities between Pervis and Snape. Actually, they'll see a lot fo similarities, but such is the way of fantasy fiction I suppose.

Author: Patrick Carmen

The Spiderwick Chronicles

This was one of the funnest books-on-CD that I've ever heard (topped only by the Harry Potter books-on-CD). They are read by the ever-talented Mark Hamill, that hunk of a dreamboat from my childhood who does a formidable job of troll voices (of course, you must keep in mind that he went on to do the voice of the Joker in the Batman cartoons, so he's not without expirience). These were very fun books. Being a sound recording, I apparently missed out on some neat drawings, but I highly recommend these books to anyone.

Author: Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

The Lightning Thief

What a great way to get in to Greek mythology! Loosely similar in theme to Harry Potter (boy doesn't know he has magical powers and must use them to save world) but very well thought-out. There wasn't a dull moment in the book, and I even got over the snarky adolecent style of narrative. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Author: Rick Riordan

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Don't be swayed by how thick this book is. It's actually a fast read, mainly because it's composed of a mix of illustrations and very short paragraphs. It's a great idea, and it works well here. There are great stills taken from old silent films, and a masterful meshing of historical fiction and fantasy. Beautiful illustrations, and a good plot, too. It's based on a real life Parisian film maker who has been recrafted into a fictional toy maker. You'll love the feeling of being in historic Paris. At least I did. And I don't even like Paris.

Author: Brian Selznick

Nacky Patcher and the Curse of the Dry Land Boats

A very odd book, but engaging somehow. Sort of like Firefly meets young adult fantasy. Whereas many books are, I feel, erroneously targeted for young kids just because the main character is a kid, this book actually features an adult as the main character. The use of nautical terms is great. I really can't put my finger on why this book
is good; it was perhaps just enough out of the ordinary to be tantalizing.

Author: Jeffrey Kluger

The Looking Glass Wars

A retelling of Alice (or, Alyss, as it should be) in Wonderland. Fully realized and creative storytelling. There is a lot of violent aspects of the novel (in case you are a sensitive reader or parent of one), but it is coupled with a very strong heroine and good morals (not giving in to the dark side, for example. Might does not make right, stuff like that). The drawings annoy me because they look like they were ripped off straight from Star Wars, so I listened to the book on tape.

Author: Frank Beddor

The Mysterious Benedict Society

Fun, engaging. Slightly mysterious, well-drawn characters. Slightly disturbing twist at the end, at least from this mom's point of view, although I think it's supposed to be a little creepy. You want to know what it is? SPOILER ALERT!!!!!: one of the main characters is actually a two year old. I find this very bizzare. What is a two year old doing away from her mommy and daddy this whole time? See, that's what you get when you have a mom reviewing children's books.

Author: Trenton Lee Stewert

The Sisters Grimm

Another for the ranks of "children go reluctantly to kooky relative's house only to find themselves immersed in a fantastical world" theme. However, this is a fun read that pits the Grimm sisters against the trapped inhabitants of Ferryport Landing, a town full of Fables. While the characters can be a little cliched, I found this to be an engaging and fun read. There are currently six books in the series, although I haven't yet read the last one. Sorry, I don't think I got the photos of the books in the right order.

Author: Michael Buckley

The New Policeman

WOW, this book is the best I have ever read about Irish traditional music. My hubby and I have played Irish trad for over a decade, and were delighted to find many well-loved tunes headlining each chapter. I had to sit by a piano or fiddle the whole time I was reading this book. It's slow to start, but picks up towards the middle, so stick with it. Hats off to Kate Thompson (who composed her own tune that is included in the book) for this great novel!

Author: Kate Thompson

Wise Child

Wise Child is a book about a young girl who becomes apprentice to a village healing woman, Juniper. Wise Chile is reluctant to go, since the villagers consider Juniper to be a witch, but Wise Child soon comes to realize that superstitions and rumors don't come close to describing the amazing woman that Juniper turns out to be. FIlled with medieval lore about plants and herb use, lifestyles, and healing knowledge, this is a wonderful book for anyone who enjoyed Mists of Avalon and Clan of the Cavebear. As Wise Child grows into a young woman, her skills and knowledge become finely honed tools as she aids Juniper in her healing arts. This book is actually the second book in a series written by Monica Furlong, who was, ironically, a stout Christian. However, reading-wise it is sequentially the first book to read. It is followed by Colman and Juniper.

Author: Monica Furlong

Princess Academy

If I describe the plot of this book, it will sound silly. But believe me, this is yet another fine Shannon Hale novel that will have you up past your bedtime. I love the Nordic elements of this book; you'll feel like you're constantly in on the set of Heidi.

Author: Shannon Hale


I really bought into the hype. I bought the book, for goodness sake, and I hardly EVER buy a book I've never read before. Yes, yes, it was written by a teenager and yes, it has gotten great reviews and yes, it was made into a movie. I thought the book stunk. It was a bad retelling of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Dragonriders of Pern. These are all respectable stories, and archetypal, but GOD I got sick of seeing them poorly rehashed in this novel that was in need of heavy editing. I didn't like the main character. If Luke Skywalker was whiny, this kid was downright obnoxious. He is guided by a man who is a one-dimensional mix of Aragorn and Obi Wan Kanobe, who we know from the minute we meet him is more than who he says he is, which leaves me wondering if we were supposed to be surprised when he reveals his true identity? Please. Congrats to Christopher Paolini for writing a best-selling novel that appealed to tons of kids; but I've heard this story before.

Author: Christopher Paolini

Artemis Fowl

Anti-hero Irish boy genius discovers world of fairies and how to
exploit them. Love it!!! Kids will love Mulch, who's talent involves
juicy flatulence, but adults will love the riddles thatArtimis Fowl
lays for his fairy foes. He really is a good guy, which becomes more
apparent in the sequels, (of which there are five to date). So that's
redeeming. I love that this book turns apparentarchetypes on their heads, and Eoin Colfer's writing and story craft is a much-welcome break from the usual. These are great as books-on-tape.

Author: Eoin COlfer

Peter and the Starcatchers

Dave Berry and friend re-write Peter Pan. Could life get any better? Carefully crafted, this book answers the question: "how did Peter first meet Captain Hook?" along with many other puzzles (why can Peter fly? Where did Tinkerbell come from?). Readers will enjoy the origins of the Peter Pan characters and the recreations of the events that shaped a childhood classic. It's a fast read that will occupy most of your time and have you reaching for the sequel.

Authors: Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson

Publishing info: Disney Editions (April 25, 2006)

Peter and the Shadow Thieves

Had to borrow the sequel as soon as I finished the first one. Seriously
addictive. Imbued with Dave Berry's humour and Pearson's touch of
mystery, this sequel to Peter and theStarcatchers is every bit as
engaging and original as the first. It's a little darker, namely
because it takes place in a dank and dismal depiction of London, but
also because of a fairly creepy character who is the namesake shadow
thief. Still, I think it's appropriate for all ages and is a fantastic
read-out-loud book. This novel once again rewrites the story of Peter
Pan, this time addressing the strange phenomenon of losing one's
shadow, as Peter did in the opening scene of the Disney movie. By the
way, I've only ever seen the Disney film, and this book still appeals
to me.I'm guessing since Disney had a hand in distributing and publishing, they made sure it would.

Authors: Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson
Publishing info: Disney Editions (July 15, 2006)

Ranger's Apprentice

Gross. Tales from the Crypt meets Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Not scary enough to be really bad, but not unscary enough to be good.

Author: John Flanagan


Gag me. I already survived being a teenager once, thank you.

Oddly enough, loved Holly Black's Spiderwick Chronicles that she co-wrote with Tony DiTerlizzi.

Author: Holly Black


While not fantasy in the strictest sense, it is a little surreal that a
fish would show up in a mud puddle and that a girl would then carry
said fish all the way across a country on her journey to safety. A
missionary family must flee civil war, and this is the story of their
journey over the mountains and to a neutral zone. Girls and women alike
will identify with this very real and brave heroine. If you are partial
to books on tape, this one isparticularly interesting. The actress (Jenna Lamia) who reads it puts on a strange accent. I thought it was Welsh, then maybe some blend of South African with British
? but since she's is, in fact, neither, I have no idea what she was
going for. Oddly enough, it totally works, whatever it is.

here's the weirdest part. After reading other reviews of this book, it
seems that our androgynous hero is, in fact, a boy. And apparently it's
a Christian allegory. Maybe I got a different sense of it all because I
listened to the book rather than read it, but in my mind Tiger is still
a girl, and I didn't pick up at all on the alleged themes ofChristianity. So, weird. Maybe it is a little sci-fi after all.

Author: L.S. Matthews


There are a lot of books that have Fablehaven's theme: children go reluctantly to kooky relatives house only to discover themselves in a world of magic and wonder (usually inhabited by magical creatures). However, Fablehaven is a fantastic read that lends a new light to a well-worn idea. This book had me up way past my bedtime wondering what happens next on the namesake fairy and magical creature preserve. There's plenty of humour and suspense, well-drawn characters and interesting twists. I kept wanting to slap Seth, the little brother, who constantly disobeys authority and puts everyone in danger, but I suppose that's part of the tension. You always need a good I-want-to-kick-you-in-the-pants character.

Author: Brandon Mull

Publisher: Aladdin (April 24, 2007)

This book has a sequel! Yay! It's titled Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star.

It's on my booklist, and as soon as I read it I'll post a review!

Faerie Wars

Wow, great book. Two worlds collide as a animal-loving, father-rebelling young man accidentally ends up in this world and is found by a kooky old man and a young boy. Well written, it addresses (although loosely) topics that aren't usually afforded much light in YA fantasy (homosexuality, divorce) while still clinging to the more explored themes of faeries and demons. I'm going to read the sequel, although it's not as high on my list as other sequels to some other books I'm reading.

Author: Herbie Brennon

The Amulet of Samarkand

I made it through this book on will power, and also to see what happens. If I could post stars (and someday I'll learn how), I would give this a 2 out of 5. Something like that. Readable, and even funny at times, but there's a lot of collateral damage and weird ethics. I was really excited about this book when I first got it, but maybe it
was because there was a shiny thing on the cover. Who wouldn't love a shiny thing? And the plot is pretty original, I'll give it that.

Author: Jonathon Stroud

His Dark Materials

Once you delve into the world of Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon,
you'll never be the same. One of the reasons Lord of the Rings and
Harry Potter work so well is that they create fully formed worlds that
you find yourselfcompletely immersed in, and Philip Pullman's trilogy
creates the same kind of magic. I found myself often wondering why I
don't have a daemon, or what parallel worlds lie just beyond my sight.
Although this trilogy is targeted for young adults, I often found it
over my head. It's for that reason I love to read these books over and
over again. It's very metaphysical in theme, with the myth of Adam and
Eve at its core, and isdefiantly anti-church-establishment (which is
the best part). An inspiring female heroine, original theme,
well-developed characters and creations, and challenges to the notions
of good and evil make this one of my top favourite trilogies. It is
currently being made into movies, with the Golden Compass set to debut
in December.

Read in the order of: The Golden Compass; The
Subtle Knife; and the Amber Spyglass. Or you can now buy the complete
trilogy as one big, fat book.

Author: Philip Pullman

Publishing info: Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 10, 2007)

The Astonishing life of Octavian Nothing

There's more to the title than that, but I'll have to fill it in later
(toddler's patience is wearing thin). I found this to be a very
interesting book, albeit one that wasn't so interesting that I finished
it. It masterfully creates a character that is unlike one I have read
before: a boy is basically a racialexperiment for a house full of bizarre scientists. The period language alone is quite extravagant
. The racial tensions might be over children's heads, but really I
don't know if this is an entirely appropriate book for children anyway.
Not that it matters, since I'm trying to review this for an adult
audience; nevertheless, I had trouble finishing the book. Great piece
of historical fiction, and deeply disturbing, as much of our past is.

Author: M.T. Anderson

Gregor the Overlander

I know this book gets rave reviews elsewhere, but I found it very disturbing. Again, it's my mommy instincts that are talking here. The plot is about a young boy and his baby sister who fall through a grate into a dangerous underground world. Besides the fact that this little baby is constantly dodging certain death and must rely on a distracted older brother to watch over her, what a horrible thing to think about the mother who must frantically be wondering where her children are. Again, Mommy talking here.

Author: Suzanne Collins