Saturday, June 25, 2011

Swords of the Six by Scott Appleton

Swords of the Six by Scott Appleton is a very captivating, descriptive, and exciting story of betrayal and salvation.  It is full of spiritual allegory. 

The story begins with a spectacular prologue of a fight between good and evil that ends in a tragic betrayal.  I really loved the prologue and it drew me into the story.  Part one tells the story of six daughters of the good white dragon, Albino.  They have been created to avenge the innocent blood that was shed.  The sisters all have different personalities and some of the dialogue between them is hilarious!  They trust their father, Albino, and willingly accept their destiny.  Part two at first seems to deviate from the story that had been established, but it reality it adds a greater depth to the story.  A prophesy is fulfilled.  There is love and loss.  And the daughters of the Dragon are joined by Ilfedo.  This book laid a fantastic foundation for the second book, Offspring, which will be released in July 2011. I'm looking forward to the second book!

I highly recommend this book for young adults.  Mr. Appleton has done an excellent job of providing very descriptive battle scenes.  One thing I really like about this books is that it is written with a higher level of vocabulary than most young adult books today.  It provides an engaging story while challenging the reader.  I greatly appreciated that this story has such spiritual overtones.  I recommend this book to readers who love a good fantasy!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Airman by Eoin Colfer

Airman by Eoin Colfer is one of my most favorite books.  Eoin is pronounced Owen.  It is basically a modern re-telling of The Count of Monte Cristo.  One of the things that I like very best about this book is that it is a great companion to a science unit on flight...which is how I use it in my classroom. 

Conor Broekhart is living a carefree life on the Saltee Islands.  He is destined to fly in an era before airplanes.  Through circumstances beyond his control, he is falsely accused of murder and sent to age 14.  Re-named Conor Finn, he makes the most of his time in prison and plans his escape.  Will he make it?  Will he get his revenge?

This book is a fabulous book for sixth grade on up.  There are a few places where profanity is used, but it is not excessive.  Overall, it is an excellent story!  I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Escape from Furnace # 1 & 2 by Alexander Gordon Smith

This series is by a British author.  I have only read the first two books, as those are the only ones available in the USA at this time, so I can't speak regarding the appropriateness of the remaining books in the series.

With that said, I LOVED the first two books!  The first book is Lockdown.  Alex is admittedly a bad person.  He has his peers at school scared he will take their lunch money.  He breaks into houses for fun.  However, he is framed for a murder that he did not commit and sent to Furnace, a solid rock prison a mile beneath the earth's surface.  The inmates have no hope, they will all serve life sentences.  Prisoners are occasionally taken from their cells and used for science experiments that seem to go horribly wrong.  However, Alex and his new found friends see a glimmer of hope and attempt to make a break from the prison. 

The second book is Solitary.  This one gives the reader a deeper understanding of what goes on in the laboratory at Furnace.  Someone is up to some very evil science experiments and the outside world has no clue of what is going on down there.  Furnace is not a state or federally ran prison, it is independently owned and operated.  This book kept me on the edge of my seat and I can't wait until the third one comes out in August!

I would classify these as science fiction thrillers.  I know other places have also classified these as horror, but I'm not familiar enough with that genre to make that assertion.  They do have some violence and gore in them.  At this point, I would say they are appropriate for middle school readers through adult readers.  However, due to the fact that I work at a Christian school and I've read the Amazon UK reviews for the next three titles in the series, I feel that I must hold off putting them in my classroom library until I've had a chance to read the remaining books in the series.  I'd hate to get the students excited about a new series only to find out later that it ultimately was not appropriate for middle school students.

Willy Wonka, the musical

I know that I'm trying to keep this blog about books, but I just need to say a few words about the musical Willy Wonka.  My daughter's school just put on this production and I sat through all eight performances.  If you ever have the opportunity to see this musical, please take it!  It is absolutely fabulous and it has a great moral to the story.  There is a lot of humor in the play, too.  I have never really been a fan of the book or movie (especially the original seemed scary to me as a kid).  However, I would see the musical again in a heartbeat!  The play is appropriate for all ages.

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

I grew up reading Walt Morey books, so I love a good survival story!  Dr. Ben Payne is headed home from a medical conference when his flight is canceled due to poor weather conditions.  He is desperate to get back home to his wife, so he finds a private pilot who is willing to chance the weather.  He invites along Ashley, whom he has just met, because she is desperate to get home for her wedding.  The pilot dies, the plane crash lands in a very remote part of Utah, and Ben and Ashley are left to tend to their injuries and to survive on their own. 
This is an absolutely marvelous story of survival, determination, love, and the triumph of the human spirit.  It also speaks highly of the marriage relationship and how it should be cherished.  I highly recommend this book!  This book would be appropriate for high school ages on up.

Beyonders # 1: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull

Jason falls into the hippo's pen at the local zoo and ends up in an alternate universe.  He begins a quest to find his way back to Earth, but is sidetracked by another quest to free the world of Lyrian from its evil leader.  This book is funny, very enjoyable, and has an excellent message about what it takes to be a hero.  An excellent beginning to a series!
If you are familiar with Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series, this series very different.  Yes, this one contains a little magic, but it doesn't contain demons, unicorns, or any of the other well-known magical creatures from the Fablehaven series.  Mr. Mull has created his own creatures for this series. 
I highly recommend this series!  It will probably be most enjoyed by middle school readers, but it has such a good message that I think it should be read by all!

Monday, February 28, 2011


Hello and welcome to my first blog!  I've decided to begin this blog for several reasons:

1. I read a lot of books and I think others would benefit from my reviews and comments.

2. I think today's parents, as a whole, don't have enough time to preview or even skim what is available out there for kids to read...and let me tell you, much of what is out there is not wholesome! 

I know several years ago I made the mistake of trusting a book list put out by OBOB (Oregon Battle of the Books).  They had just added a high school reading list of 16 books to their program.  In the past I had purchased all of the books on the reading lists for the younger aged readers and would have my two kids read all the books on the list as their summer jobs.  When my daughter, who was going into 9th grade at the time, started on the first book she ran across some sexual content and showed it to me.  I was shocked!  I told her to stop reading the high school list and to read the middle school list instead while I previewed the rest of the high school list.  Actually, the book she showed me was one of the cleanest!  One of the books contained graphic sexual content AND was full of profanity (even the "F" word.) 

As a concerned parent and a teacher, I contacted OBOB and voiced my concern.  They offered to let me serve on the committee as they picked the books for the high school list for the second year.  I took them up on this offer.  During the book selection process I read over 60 book nominations.  However, I realized that there was a hidden agenda during the first book selection meeting when they told me that they had to select a book that glorified masturbation because it was more important to pick a book to honor Native American culture (which is where this book was set) than to worry about values.  Morals were not to be considered when picking books for their program.  So, I ultimately resigned from the committee so that I could spend my time reading books that were more in line with my values and beliefs.

I intend to use this blog to review books that I read and to let parents know what can be found in the books that may be against their values.  At this point there are rating systems for music, video games, and TV & movies, but there is not anything out there for books.  I hope to provide some of that through my blog.