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.