Many readers are familiar with the life Anne Shirley leads once she arrives at Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert’s home but have been left to imagine what...moreMany readers are familiar with the life Anne Shirley leads once she arrives at Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert’s home but have been left to imagine what life was like for her before she stepped off the train at Bright River Station. Author Budge Wilson takes us into the first eleven years of Anne’s world.
In Before Green Gables, we are introduced to Anne’s seemingly perfect parents before they die from “the fever.” She only gets three months with them before she is sent off to the Thomas household where she will never be loved the same way; in fact, that family will come to see her as an “ugly orphan” who is “just another mouth to feed.” The only bright spot in her life is attending school—when she’s old enough. When the Thomas family falls apart, she is immediately sent to work for the Hammond family, who have six children under the age of two (three sets of twins), and Anne is expected to take care of them. She remains in this home until it, too, falls apart, and her worst fear comes true—she will be sent to an orphanage. It is every bit as bad as she imagined it would be, and our sweet Anne Shirley hardens her heart to everyone and everything, focusing only on her tragic life and all that she has lost. She throws herself into schoolwork and chores until everything changes the day a lady arrives to select a “girl, about eleven-years-old, who can do hard work” as a favor for some people back home. When the head of the orphanage selects Anne as the girl to fill this request, Anne’s life is forever changed.
Readers will appreciate Wilson’s attempt to recreate the world L.M.Montgomery conceived for Anne, but they are sure to question some of the choices she made. Was Anne really the Pollyanna-esque character we see here? Was she really so self-possessed at such a young age? However, despite these questions, Wilson provides us with a good story about the red-headed girl we’ve loved for so many years. (less)
It’s the year 2100 and Earth is underwater due to global warming. Communication with all parts of the world has ceased to exist because…what other par...moreIt’s the year 2100 and Earth is underwater due to global warming. Communication with all parts of the world has ceased to exist because…what other parts of the world are left? Mara and her friends and family live on Wing, an island that has managed to survive the massive rising waters—until now. The people on Wing assume that there are other people somewhere in the world living on islands like they are…but they have no idea where. Little do they know that Mara uses her antique cyberwizz (similar to a laptop) each night to try to find a way to save their lives.
Sure enough, Mara discovers that not all of Earth’s inhabitants have drowned! Instead, the people appear to now live in new cities built high over the seas on things like stilts, safely protected from the rising waters. Curiously, these cities have towering walls all around them. Confident that this is the answer the people of Wing have been looking for, Mara convinces everyone that making the dangerous trip across unknown waters to this new sky city will save them all. After all, they wouldn’t be turned away once they finally arrive there, right?
This is a great book, sure to be enjoyed even by readers who aren’t normally fans of science fiction. Exodus is the first book in a planned trilogy, and I’m anxious to see what’s going to happen in the coming novels. The characters are likable and the author offers an interesting—if not scary—view of the future. (less)
Zebby is sick and tired of getting her stories censored when she writes for the school paper at Truman Middle School, so she decides to quit. After ta...moreZebby is sick and tired of getting her stories censored when she writes for the school paper at Truman Middle School, so she decides to quit. After talking about it to her best friend Amr, they decide to start an underground newspaper—only theirs will be online!
Their online newspaper, called The Truth About Truman School, is supposed to be a place where students can post stories or feelings about school issues—as long as what they put on there is true. Zebby tells herself and Amr that they are not to censor anyone like she was censored. This belief backfires when someone starts posting mean pictures and comments about one of Zebby’s former friends Lilly, turning their newspaper into a place to bully her. Naturally, the students at Truman don’t say anything to an adult about it, so the hurtful comments continue. How much pain is Lilly supposed to endure at the hands of this site before she finally breaks?
This book was a pretty quick read told from point of view of many characters, but the reader is left guessing as to who the poster bullying Lilly really is (we’re told by the end). It made me sad to think that someone so young would really post such mean things online about someone else so young, but I suppose that is a reality these days. At least everything is wrapped up satisfactorily in the end. Definitely a middle school book for girls, this story will be enjoyed by those who like gossip. (less)
Up until recently, Keelie lived in L.A. with her mother where her life consisted of nothing more than school, friends, and shopping. This life changed...moreUp until recently, Keelie lived in L.A. with her mother where her life consisted of nothing more than school, friends, and shopping. This life changed drastically when Keelie’s mother died in an airplane accident, leaving Keelie to live at a Colorado Renaissance Faire with a father she hardly knew. Soon after arriving, she learned that her tree allergy wasn’t really an allergy, but part of a magical power related to the fact that she is part-human/part-elf…the daughter of a tree shepherd.
All of this has been accepted by Keelie by the beginning of book two, though both she and her father still aren’t sure of how powerful her magic is yet.
When they arrive at the Wildewood Faire, they can tell something is very wrong with the trees but are unsure of what is causing their displeasure. Then one night Keelie sees a real unicorn in the forest, but of course she is warned to stay away from it. In addition to having to worry about the trees and the unicorn, Keelie is stressed out about the job her father made her get at the faire and her best friend Laurie’s visit from L.A. Luckily, Raven comes back early from her internship. But just when Keelie thinks it can’t get any worse, all of the elves at the faire fall ill—including her father—leaving her to deal with the angry trees and the secretive unicorn with her friends.
I couldn’t wait to read book two of this trilogy…and Gillian Summers did not disappoint! _Into the Wildewood_ begins right where _The Tree Shepherd’s Daughter_ leaves off; the only part the readers miss is the long drive Keelie and her dad make from Colorado to New York. Because of this, the site of the new faire is just as new to us as it is to Keelie, so one does not need to have read the first book in order to understand this one.
I can't wait to read book three and I'm sad that it won't come out until summer 2009.(less)
This story begins in England in the year 1542, when Elizabeth is nine years old. Although she is the daughter of King Henry VIII, she is not officiall...moreThis story begins in England in the year 1542, when Elizabeth is nine years old. Although she is the daughter of King Henry VIII, she is not officially recognized as a princess because she, along with her other half-siblings Edward and Mary, have fallen out of their father’s favor. Instead, she lives as Lady Elizabeth, head of the household at Hatfield with her nanny. Throughout her childhood she rarely visits her father at the palace.
Many people say that she is very much like her father; this pleases her, but also makes her uneasy. After all, King Henry beheaded her mother! Watching her father’s relationships with so many women, Elizabeth learns that marriage while on the throne only seems to complicate things and vows to remain single when she eventually becomes queen.
However, this is easier said than done. From the age of eleven she begins receiving requests from men for her hand in marriage…and we must remember that Elizabeth is third—not first—in line for the crown. Not only must she cope with that, she must also stay in her family’s favor as time goes on. She gets along fine with Edward when he is king, but she and Mary but heads over religion when Mary is queen. In fact, Mary gets so angry that she uses her power to send Elizabeth to the Tower because she won’t bend to her will. How is Elizabeth able to survive until 1558, the year she is finally able to accept the crown as her own?
This is a good, fast-paced story told from Elizabeth’s point of view. Ann Rinaldi does admit at the end that this is indeed her own interpretation of Elizabeth’s story and that there are probably more accurate accounts out there, but that her goal was to make a fun book about an interesting female figure based on historical events. (less)
Cadel Piggott is a pretty normal kid, except for the fact that he is so smart! In fact, most people call him a genius. He passes each grade at record...moreCadel Piggott is a pretty normal kid, except for the fact that he is so smart! In fact, most people call him a genius. He passes each grade at record speed, making him eligible for college when he’s only 13-years-old!
While in school, Cadel has been seeing a therapist to help him through the difficult times he has in school; he obviously doesn’t fit in because he’s always so much younger and smaller than everyone in his grade level. During one of his many sessions with Thaddeus (Dr. Roth), Thaddeus tells him that the father Cadel has believed to be dead all of these years (he lives with his adopted parents) is actually alive—but in prison. He tells Cadel that his father’s name is Dr. Phineas Darkkon, a genius himself who was behind extensive illegal scientific research that made him rich—but also a wanted man (hence, the imprisonment). He had raised Cadel alone (his birth mother died in a tragic accident) for just a short time until he was sent to jail.
Needless to say, Cadel is shocked to learn this news. He had always believed that both of his parents were dead. Now, he has a rich father (in prison though) who, he also learns, founded a school called the Axis Institute that teaches all of his beliefs…all of which, turn out, have to do with EVIL. And, because Cadel is his son, he desires that he attend this school of evil. Since Cadel is sort of at a loss as to what to do after he graduates high school at age 13, he agrees to go.
Life there is crazy! His classes include Embezzlement, Lying, and Forgery, among others. Although he finds most of them interesting, he isn’t happy but doesn’t quite know why. And, while there, he learns some things about his father, Thaddeus, and his adoptive parents that upset him so much he doesn’t know who to believe anymore. Who is he, Cadel, really? Should he really follow the advice of those he’s been surround by for his entire life or should he try to escape and begin a completely new life (using his new skills) on his own?
This is a really good book, although I found it slightly difficult to get into at first. Cadel is a very likable character, and the reader will root for him the whole way through this fascinating story of good versus evil. Additionally, if readers would like to read more about Cadel, there is a sequel titled Genius Squad.(less)
In this companion novel to Wildwood Dancing, Cybele’s Secret focuses on Paula, one of the five sisters we met in the first book. In this story, we fol...moreIn this companion novel to Wildwood Dancing, Cybele’s Secret focuses on Paula, one of the five sisters we met in the first book. In this story, we follow along as she travels to Istanbul from Transylvania with her father on a merchant mission to obtain a rare item called Cybele’s Gift. Because the city is such a dangerous place, her father suggests that they appoint her a guard to accompany her where ever she goes. Paula ends up choosing a tall, handsome man named Stoyan (only because he was the most qualified!!) to help keep her safe and, as time goes by, they end up sharing some of their hopes and dreams—along with their worries—with each other.
Soon after her arrival in Istanbul, it becomes clear to Paula that those of the Other Kingdom (where she and her sisters used to visit on the full moons of each month) want to put her and Stoyan to the test by assigning them a quest. Paula knows that their quest is somehow tied to her father’s bid for Cybele’s Gift but can’t quite figure out how. When the quest takes Paula, Stoyan, a pirate friend named Duarte, and two friends-turned-enemies into the heart of a mountain, they must risk their lives and perform dangerous tasks for creatures from the Other Kingdom in order to do what is right for everyone.
Although Cybele’s Secret takes a while to get rolling, it’s a good, romantic story. The fantastic elements aren’t too over-the-top and they keep fairly close with the storyline from Wildwood Dancing.(less)