“The world can change in a minute, and at the same minute remain unchanged.” For Martha Boyle this summer is full of changes.
The First Change:
It began with a knock on the door, and women handing Martha a piece of paper. On it were words written by a dead girl. A girl Martha had not known well. Olive had been in Martha’s class but had died weeks earlier—hit by a car while riding her bike. The paper handed to Martha was one torn from Olive’s journal and on it Olive had written the following words
“I hope that I get to know Martha Boyle next year (or this summer). I hope that we can be friends. That is my biggest hope. She is the nicest person in my whole entire class.”
When Martha read those words everything began to change. Martha didn’t understand what she had ever said or done to make Olive think she was “the nicest person in the whole entire class.” And Martha couldn’t get over the fact that she an Olive had had so many things in common—things she never even knew. What, Olive wondered, could all this mean? The more she mulled over the coincides the more startling they became. Olive, and the coincidences that their lives shared, would haunt Martha all summer.

The Second Change
Her beloved Grandmother, Godbe, whom she visits every year at the ocean is getting older. In fact, Martha fears she may be dying.

The Third Change
Jimmy Manning. The same age as her brother—a year older than her, Jimmy suddenly seems less annoying…and, a lot more, well, cute…

The Fourth Change
Read from page 163…


Woods Runner By Gary Paulsen

September 17, 2010

Samuel is a boy of 13 living on the frontier with his family in 1776. At 13 he already provides for his family and most of the cabins in his settlement. Samuel loves the woods. He knows the woods. He can hunt and track better than anyone. In fact he spends most of his time in the forest providing food for his entire settlement. Many people in the settlement were afraid of the deep forest because the woods could be deadly. ( –Read from page 5)

But the woods are not what is threatening Samuel now. War has broken out and the British have invaded. While Samuel was out hunting his entire settlement was burnt to the ground. People were slaughtered. But his parents he, thinks, were taken captive. So now Samuel must use his hunting and tracking skills to find his parents and try to get them back. It will be no easy task. Death and destruction are everywhere on the path that lays ahead.

Woods Runner is a story of adventure and survival but its also a story about the truth of war. The horror of war. (Read author’s note from the epilogue)

A combination of Nancy Drew and Indiana Jones, Theodosia Throckmorton is in big trouble. Theo’s parents run a museum of ancient artifacts, and only Theo can see the dark curses that surround the many ancient items. Unbeknown to her family, Theo spends a lot of her time trying to dispel the curses that threaten to harm those that enter the museum. When Theo’s mother returns from her latest archaeological dig bearing the Heart of Egypt—a legendary amulet belonging to an ancient tomb—Theo learns that it comes inscribed with a curse so black and vile that it threatens to crumble the British Empire and possibly destroy the world. Intent on returning the malevolent artifact to its rightful place, Theo devises a daring plan to put things right. But even with the help of her younger brother, a wily street urchin, and the secret society known as the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers, it won’t be easy….she quickly finds herself pursued down dark alleys, across an ocean, through the bustling crowds of Cairo, and straight into the heart of an ancient mystery. Theo will have to call upon everything she’s ever learned in order to prevent the rising chaos from destroying her country—and herself! (this booktalk is a compilation of reviews, the jacket annotation, and information from the website http://www.theodosiathrockmorton.com/read-an-excerpt/)

Start with this introduction from the website: (http://www.gildajoyce.com/)

Dear friend:

My name is Gilda Joyce, and I’m a psychic investigator.

Perhaps you find this hard to believe. After all, if you saw me in the hallway at school, you’d probably assume that I’m an ordinary teenager who lives in Michigan with her widowed mother and annoying older brother. (“True,” you’d think, “this girl is attractive, with an iconoclastic fashion sense. Still — she’s probably just an ordinary kid who’s trying to look interesting.”)

The truth, dear reader, is that encounters with the spooky, the creepy, the hair-raising, and (occasionally) the ridiculous have an uncanny way of seeking me out. Partly because of this, I’ve been studying my Master Psychic’s Handbook and working hard to develop my psychic skills…

Gilda Joyce is one of my favorite young investigators. She’s intrepid, spunky, prone to wearing outrageous costumes and is always ready to solve a new paranormal mystery. This comic mystery series is one of the best yet. I often shivering and laughing at the same time. I can’t get enough of Gilda.

Then follow with a paraphrasing of one of the book summaries from the site. I especially like the one for Ladies of the Lake:

If you think a school for girls is simply a place to wear ribbons in your hair and expose your dimpled knees, you’ve never been to Our Lady of Sorrows.
When Gilda first entered this exclusive private school on scholarship, she was all set to tie my hair in a ponytail, get a fake tan, and write my homework assignments in pink gel ink.
What she didn’t expect was the ominous warning: “Keep your voice down around the dead.”
She didn’t expect the ghost of a drowned girl to wander the hallways.
She certainly didn’t expect to make the most chilling discovery of all: the secret of the Ladies of the Lake.

Bull Rider

March 30, 2009

Bull Rider Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
One of the only books I’ve read for kids that deals with the war in Iraq and the devastating impact the return of a wounded soldier can have on a family. An important topic explored in a mediocre book…
Cam O’Mara lives in a small town in Nevada and spends his time helping out on the family ranch and skateboarding. When his older brother returns home from fighting in the Iraq war badly injured, Cam becomes drawn to bull riding. Cams confusion over his feelings towards his brother and the war are balanced with exciting details about bull riding…

View all my reviews.

When it is neither day nor night, when shadows lurk before darkness falls. This time, when almost anything can happen, is known as the dark thirty. You don’t want to find yourself alone during the dark thirty. For no one will believe you if you tell them what you saw. Did you actually see it? Those 30 minutes between day and night can be bewitching. It’s best to spend this eerie yet magical time with friends-sharing stories. Stories about the strange things that people have seen, stories about the supernatural. A man killed by the Klan returns to seek justice. A train that brings death if you hear its whistle. A man that can see the future sees a fiery demise for his family. The stories in this collection of spine tingling tales are inspired by African American history. They will make you shiver… They will make you wonder… And they are perfect for sharing during that time when anything can happen, during… The Dark Thirty.

When an accident leaves teenage cousins Meline and Jocelyn parentless they are sent to live with their unknown and eccentric Uncle Marten on a private Island that has a tragic past of it’s own. Quirky characters and outlandish situations weave a story that is as humorous as it is bizarre. It’s a story about the possibility –and impossibility of new beginnings and the truths that make us who we are.

Caleb Becker has spent the past year in juvenile detention. His crime? A hit and run while drunk driving. His Victim? Maggie Armstrong– who happened to be his twin sister’s best friend and also his next door neighbor.

It’s a year after the accident-Caleb has been released from lock up and Maggie is still learning how to walk again.

Two people, bonded together by tragedy, shunned by the rest of the world… What happens when the very person who hurt you becomes the only person you can trust?

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkes

*Notes on my categorization for the appropriate age levels for this book:

As always, the final decision about “appropriate age level” is hard to generalize…it ultimately depends on the reader. Although SLJ gave this book a 9+ recommendation for “mild cursing and some sexual scenes” I feel comfortable recommending it to several of my older middle school readers(7th and 8th graders) who have read/are reading The Gossip Girls, The Boyfriend List, and TTYL.

Josh Lewis’ best friend, techno-nerd Aaron Zimmer, has turned his computer into a wish-granting machine. The formula is not quite right however, and they repeatedly find themselves subject to the wishes of those that surround them. When it is the wishes of a snotty poodle, a boy crazy sister, and the oldest, meanest woman in New York City that are responsible for transporting you through space and time you never know where you will end up. Aaron and Josh must find a way to return to current space and time, fix the machine, avoid the bullies whose underwear they stole, and catch the Watcher, who has been tracking their every move...

Seventeen-year-old Alice Tully is finally starting to feel comfortable. She has a boyfriend, a job, a place to live with a kindly woman, and plans to attend college. But things haven’t always been so peaceful for her—in fact, Alice hasn’t always been Alice. Six years before, her name was Jennifer Jones, and she was convicted for murdering her best friend. The British press had been fascinated by her story and now that she has been released they want to find out where she is, and who she has become. Alice isn’t sure what she has become, or what she deserves. Does she deserve to be happy after what she did? As Alice tries to protect her new identity her past comes back to haunt her. Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy is a gripping and thought provoking thriller about who we are and what we can become.

*Librarians should be aware that there is some discussion of sex within the book.  Alice contemplates losing her virginity with her boyfriend and some passages describe their physical relationship. It is never gratuitous or too graphic but it is present.