Book Review: Charlie Bone and the Time Twister (Children of the Red King Book Two) by Jenny Nimmo
Book Reviews / September 2, 2005

In his second term at Bloor’s Academy, Charlie continues to develop his gift for finding trouble (and leading other kids – even older ones – into it as well). He also, by the way, develops his gift for talking with people in pictures. Unlike Harry Potter’s world, being able to chat with people in paintings isn’t a common magical gift! And unlike Hogwarts, Bloor’s isn’t a warm, safe place where a child can foil a Dark Lord in between lessons and games. This is a school whose grounds contain dangerous ruins; run by wicked people who could do serious harm to Charlie and his friends; with a head boy of incredible nastiness; a 100-year-old dark sorcerer scheming in a tower room; an eight-year-old albino spy; and really a small number of magical children in proportion to the student body – and roughly half of them are evil!

Book Review: Midnight for Charlie Bone (Children of the Red King, Book One) by Jenny Nimmo
Book Reviews / September 2, 2005

This popular series, which, as of this writing, runs four books strong, should appeal very strongly to Harry Potter fans. Its hero is a messy-haired little boy who never knew his father and who discovers at age 10 or 11 that he has a magical gift. As a result, Charlie is enrolled at a school where other “endowed” children study, eating at house tables below the staff at their head table, and sleeping in draughty dormitories. The school crawls with secrets, and the forces of good and evil are constantly clashing, constantly striving for control of the magic – especially, it seems, of Charlie’s magic. For it doesn’’t take long to realize that Charlie has a “saving people thing”—gee, why does this sound familiar?

Book Review: Red Unicorn by Tanith Lee
Book Reviews / September 2, 2005

The third book in the series that begins with Black Unicorn and Gold Unicorn begins with a refreshing summary of the first two books. Then, it plunges quickly into a new tale featuring the young sorceress Tanaquil and her talking pet peeve.

Book Review: Black Water (Pendragon Book Five) by D.J. MacHale
Book Reviews / August 30, 2005

As the Pendragon series continues, the battle of Bobby Pendragon and his fellow Travelers against the time-and-space-hopping demon, Saint Dane, grows more and more intense. I hope I’m not going to ruin The Reality Bug for you right now but…well, there’s something about knowing that Bobby Pendragon can lose, and Saint Dane can win, that “ups the ante” on the suspense. Not only does Bobby’s imperfect record of wins vs. losses mean that anything can happen, but now, in Saint Dane’s words, “the rules have changed” – most likely to Saint Dane’s advantage!

Book Review: The Surgeon’s Mate by Patrick O’Brian
Book Reviews / August 30, 2005

Here is the seventh of twenty novels in a series of adventures in historical / naval fiction that inspired the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. As in the other books, this one views the Napoleonic wars from the eyes of experienced Royal Navy Captain “Lucky” Jack Aubrey, and his best friend, ship’s surgeon and intelligence officer, Dr. Stephen Maturin. The action picks up where The Fortune of War left off, with the pair escaping from the hostile American navy, along with the woman who has repeatedly broken Stephen’s heart.

Book Review: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
Book Reviews / August 24, 2005

This book was the basis for the MGM/UA animated movie The Secret of NIMH. It (the book, not the movie) won the Newbery Medal in 1972. The main character is Mrs. Frisby, a widowed field mouse who, with her two sons and two daughters, lives under a tree in a meadow in the summer, and inside a cinder block in a farmer’s field in the winter. As the story opens, the time for moving out of their winter house approaches (when the frost breaks up, the farmer will plow his field, so their home will be destroyed). But Mrs. Frisby has a problem. Her younger son, Timothy, a frail but very intelligent and kind little mouse, comes down with pneumonia and while he is recovering (thanks to medicines made by an old white mouse named Mr. Ages) he cannot be moved. He has to stay in bed, and he can’t survive even a breath of cold or damp air, the likes of which he is sure to run into if they move to their summer house now. Mrs. Frisby is desperate to figure out a solution to her dilemma: for as it stands, they can either move, and Timothy will die; or they can stay put, and all die together.

Book Review: The Reality Bug (Pendragon Book Four) by D.J. MacHale
Book Reviews / August 17, 2005

Suppose you’re Bobby Pendragon. Suppose you’re a fifteen-year-old, suburban basketball star whose life has been turned upside down. Your family has disappeared, your home has vanished, all trace of your existence has been erased, and you have been launched into a dangerous, deadly-serious adventure through time and space, in which the fate of ten worlds depends on stopping the evil plans of the shape-changing, demonically clever Saint Dane. Suppose you have watched some close friends die, and you have been forced to make terrible life-and-death decisions, and the only thing that keeps you going is that you are more scared of failing than of the danger you face.

Book Review: The Never War (Pendragon Book Three) by D.J. MacHale
Book Reviews / August 17, 2005

Cocky, yet down-to-earth. Hip, yet grounded. Well-liked, yet lonely. Scared out of his mind, yet known for his exceptional bravery. That’s 15-year-old Bobby Pendragon, the “Traveler” from Second Earth, who flumes from territory to territory, putting a stop to each of Saint Dane’s evil plans to throw all Halla into chaos.

Book Review: The Magickers by Emily Drake
Book Reviews / August 17, 2005

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 in Northern California. But Jason doesn’t know how extraordinary he really is, until he finds out that Camp Ravenwyng is really a school for the magically talented!

Book Review: The Lost City of Faar (Pendragon Book Two) by D.J. MacHale
Book Reviews / August 17, 2005

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? universe?) in The Merchant of Death, in which Bobby experienced danger, warfare, responsibility for the fate of millions, failure, triumph, the death of a friend, and an unresolved vendetta with the Evil One himself: Saint Dane.