Friday, 21 September 2018

Yours Truly

Yours Truly
Yours Truly

By Heather Vogel Frederick

Truly Lovejoy is a typical 13-year-old girl – except for the fact that she’s 6 feet tall.  She lives with her 4 siblings and her parents in her grandparents’ house in Pumpkin Falls, a place that takes maple syrup very seriously.

It’s spring, and Maple Madness is upon them.  Busloads and busloads of tourists arrive in Pumpkin Falls to tour local farms, try the maple cookies, cakes and treats, and of course, to buy syrup.  Truly and her cousin Mackenzie are a little stunned by how much this little town loves its maple syrup.  But when sap lines are found to be cut on the Freeman farm, and later on the Maynard farm, Truly and Mackenzie have a mystery on their hands.

They turn to their friends, the Pumpkin Falls Private Eyes for help.  As neighbour begins to turn against neighbour, each blaming the other for sabotaging their farm, the Private Eyes know they must get to the bottom of this mystery for the sake of their town.  

Meanwhile, Truly and Mackenzie make a shocking discovery.  Hidden under a floorboard in Truly’s closet is a diary dating back to the 1860s and written by the original Truly Lovejoy, young Truly’s ancestor.   The Civil War has broken out in the United States and 1860s Truly is keeping an incredible secret – one that has great historical significance.

Mystery fans will love Yours Truly.  The secret in the diary evolves into a historical mystery which compliments the sap mystery – two mysteries make the book doubly intriguing! 

History buffs will love this story too – the American Civil War and the Underground Railroad come alive in Truly’s diary.  Yours Truly also has a dose of boy/girl friendships and romance.

Yours Truly is the second Pumpkin Falls Mystery, but it is ok to read this one first. A great read!

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Scar Island

Scar Island
Scar Island

By Dan Gemeinhart

Jonathan Grisby is just a boy, but already he has committed a crime that has sent him to Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys. 
Slabhenge is no ordinary place.  Located on a remote, rocky island, Slabhenge can only be reached by boat and keeps its young residents isolated from everything comforting and familiar.  The school itself is cold, damp and rat-infested.

The teachers are a cruel bunch and treat the boys like the worst sort of criminals, often torturing them on a device called the Sinner’s Sorrow. 

But an unlikely incident occurs, and the boys find themselves suddenly alone, with no adults whatsoever.  They can eat what they want and go to bed when they like.  

But their newfound freedom quickly disappears when Sebastian takes over.  Sebastian demands that the boys follow him, or else.  Those who do his bidding get the best bedrooms and food.  Those who cross him, beware.

Jonathan must make a choice.  Will he take the easy route and follow Sebastian?  Or will he do the right thing and stand up for all the other boys?

Creepy, disturbing, and totally riveting, Scar Island is a great read.  You won’t be able to put it down!

Thursday, 30 August 2018

The Alcatraz Escape

The Alcatraz Escape
The Alcatraz Escape
By Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Join Emily, James and friends on another adventure.  This time, Garrison Griswold plans to challenge his many fans with Unlock the Rock, a game that takes place entirely in Alcatraz prison.  Participants must solve a puzzle to even qualify for the game.  Once they are on Alcatraz Island, they are confronted with many different kinds of puzzles, but not all of them will help them solve the game’s mystery.

Adding to this challenge is the famous and reclusive author Errol Roy.  No one knows what Roy looks like, but amazingly, he has come forward to plan a mystery on behalf of Garrison Griswold.  Roy himself appears at Unlock the Rock, but is nothing like the dashing detective his readers imagined.  His mystery, in fact, reveals many surprising things about the author himself.

Although Emily and James are over the moon about the competition, their spirits are dampened somewhat by threatening notes that they receive, warning them to stay away from the contest.  And when they arrive, items start to go missing and reappear in some very strange places.

Can Emily and James overcome these challenges to Unlock the Rock?

Book Scavenger fans will love the latest San Francisco adventure from Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.  This time, readers will explore the dark and dank reaches of Alcatraz, a prison that once housed some of America’s most notorious criminals.

Highly recommended!

Thursday, 12 July 2018


Wildwood Chronicles

Wildwood, by Colin Meloy

Prue McKeel is a 12 year old girl from, Portland, a small town across the ravine from Wildwood, known to her townspeople as the Impassable Wilderness, due to its inhabitability, dangerous creatures and overall wildness. One Saturday morning Prue is playing with her baby brother, Mac, at the playground, when he is suddenly and inexplicably carried off by a murder of crows into Wildwood. Prue follows him as far as she can, but quickly realizes she has lost Mac to the crows. 
Formulating a plan, Prue gathers supplies and goes into Wildwood with Curtis, a classmate, to rescue Mac. Once they enter the woods, they meet the animals and people that live in the different neighbourhoods of the woods.  Prue and Curtis become separated and they discover that not everyone is as they appear. In these woods lies good and evil and a history that has divided the woods, causing wars and political upheaval that is unresolved. 

As outsiders, Curtis and Prue each become involved with different factions - the Mystics, the Coyotes, the Bandits, and the Dowager Governess to name a few, as they struggle to learn the whereabouts of Mac and enlist the help of people and animals they meet to rescue him. 

Wildwood is the first in the trilogy of  the Wildwood Chronicles and sets the stage for other adventures involving Prue and Curtis. This volume can be a bit daunting at 541 pages and it uses a lot of uncommon vocabulary, but this only adds to its descriptive writing and its fantastical setting.

This book, intended for middle graders, is worth the journey into Wildwood, it does not move quickly, but there is a lot going on that is all explained and nothing is taken for granted.

Friday, 6 July 2018

The Wild Robot Escapes

The Wild Robot Escapes
The Wild Robot Escapes
By Peter Brown

Our beloved robot, Roz, returns in Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot Escapes.  This time, Roz finds herself at Hilltop Farm where her job is to manage the animals, grow the crops, fix the farm machines and make sure everything runs smoothly.  

The farm is owned by Mr. Shareef.  He and his two children, Jad and Jaya, can give Roz any orders they like and Roz must obey.  Roz is programmed to do as she is told, yet she cannot stop thinking about her son, Brightbill, and her old life on the island.  Naturally, she begins to plot her escape.

Roz befriends the farm animals, of course, all of whom want to help her reunite with her son.  To her surprise, she also begins to care about the Shareefs, especially Jad and Jaya.  Although she knows she must leave them, she is torn by her “feelings” for them and her desire to help them.

But how can a robot with a built-in tracking device escape?  Can a robot really grow to care for people and animals?  After all, Roz is not supposed to have feelings.

Join Roz on another can’t-put-it-down adventure as she battles against wolves, the RECOs, and even her own programming to return to the island where she belongs.

This is the second book in the series, so make sure you read The Wild Robot first.

Highly recommended!

Hello, Universe

Hello, Universe
Hello, Universe
By Erin Entrada Kelly

Virgil Salinas is a shy boy who finds himself the target of bullying by Chet “the Bull” Bullens.  Virgil desperately wants to stand up for himself, but he just doesn’t have the confidence to do it.  Even his parents call him “Turtle” because he is so quiet.  The nickname makes him feel bad about himself, but he can’t even muster the courage to ask his parents to stop using it.

Virgil starts going to see a psychic to help him solve his problems.  Her name is Kaori Tanaka, and although she is a kid too, she believes she can tap into the powers of the universe to help guide other people.

Valencia Somerset is another of Kaori’s “clients”.  Valencia is deaf, but is able to rely on hearing aids and lip reading to help her communicate.  She is also the girl that Virgil most wants to talk to, but of course, he’s too shy to do it.

Alone in the woods one day, Virgil encounters Chet, and ends up in a dangerous, even life-threatening situation.  When he doesn’t meet Kaori at the appointed time, she begins to look for him.  By coincidence, Valencia joins the search.  But Kaori doesn’t believe in coincidences.  Did fate intervene to bring these kids together?

Hello, Universe is a novel about friendship, bullying, confidence and the power of the universe to bring the right people together at the right time. If you are looking for a feel-good, uplifting novel, try this one.