Book Reviews

Book Review: The Magickers by Emily Drake


  The Magickers by Emily Drake Jason Adrian seems like an ordinary boy…except that he lives with his stepmother and stepfather; and he has really wicked nightmares that wake him up every night at midnight; and he keeps getting attacked by a crow that once lured him into falling out of an attic window; and now, when an injury at tryouts sidelines him from summer soccer camp, he gets picked for an “English-geek camp” somewhere ... Read More »

Book Review: The Lost City of Faar (Pendragon, Book Two) by D. J. MacHale


Bobby Pendragon, 14-year-old cosmic hero, was last seen plunging through a “flume” with his Uncle Press, traveling to another territory (planet? dimension? time?), leaving his nerdy best friend Mark and his jockish girlfriend Courtney to wait, wonder, and read the journals that he occasionally sends them. His parents, his sister, his dog, and their whole house had vanished into nowhere. Not much of a welcome back from his first death-defying trip to another world (reality? ... Read More »

Book Review: Tangerine by Edward Bloor


Tangerine by Edward Bloor Paul Fisher is a seventh grade soccer goalie who wears very thick glasses because, technically, he is legally blind. He really sees fairly well, though — but in a way few others see. The book begins as Paul and his family move to Tangerine County, Florida, where his older brother Erik is about to start his senior year of high school. Everyone but Paul seems caught up in the Erik Fisher ... Read More »

Book Review: Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins


Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins Somewhere or other, Suzanne Collins claimed that she conceived the Underland Chronicles as a modern, urban answer to Alice in Wonderland. To be sure, what Gregor finds at the bottom of a manhole in Central Park is jarringly different from the topsy-turvyland Alice found at the bottom of her English rabbit hole. It is so different, in fact, that I am inclined to think of Underland as more of ... Read More »

Book Review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins


  Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins In Scholastic’s “About the Author” blurb, Suzanne Collins explains her first novel as a 21st-century, New York City version of “Alice in Wonderland” – in the sense that instead of a rabbit hole, you might fall down a manhole – and what you would find at the bottom would be quite different too. What 11-year-old Gregor finds is an underground kingdom populated by purple-eyed people who live in ... Read More »

Book Review: The Thief and the Beanstalk by P. W. Catanese


The Thief and the Beanstalk by P. W. Catanese I think this is the first book written by the author of The Brave Apprentice. Both books, and presumably The Eye of the Warlock also, belong to a series called “Further Tales.” The Brave Apprentice is the further tale of what happened after the classic tale of the Brave Little Tailor. And naturally, The Thief and the Beanstalk is the further tale that happens after “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Here’s the idea. Everyone ... Read More »

Book Review: The Brave Apprentice by P.W. Catanese


  The Brave Apprentice by P. W. Catanese “Want escape?” If you mix up the letters in that question, you may get P. W. Catanese – the pen-name of an American gentleman named Paul, who has also written The Thief and the Beanstalk and The Eye of the Warlock. This is the first book by Catanese that I have read. It makes me eager to read the author’s other titles, and to recommend the same to you. The Brave ... Read More »

Book Review: Goblins in the Castle by Bruce Coville


Goblins in the Castle by Bruce Coville This story, by the author of Aliens Ate My Homework and I Left My Sneakers in Dimension X, started its life in an elementary school classroom, where the author’s half-mad, hunchbacked brother Igor made an appearance every Halloween. The classroom tradition evolved into a storybook which finally got published, so the rest of the world can fall in love with Igor and gasp with amazement, horror, and laughter at the antics ... Read More »

Book Review: The Fortune of War by Patrick O’Brian


The sixth of twenty completed novels about a 19th-century Royal Navy captain named Jack Aubrey and his faithful ship’s surgeon, Stephen Maturin, is unusual in many ways. For example, in this book Aubrey is never in command of anything larger than a rowboat. As O’Brian explains in the preface, the book dramatizes actual events in naval history, inserting his fictional characters into the action. Yet even though they don’’t displace any of the real people ... Read More »

Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card


Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card The book that started not one but two celebrated series of science fiction novels started, in turn, as a story in Analog Magazine, which my father used to get when I was a kid, so it was always lying around. First published in 1977, it is eerily predictive of some developments such as e-mail and the internet…but mostly, it is a far-out fantasy that inhabits its own unique, somewhat futuristic ... Read More »