Beautiful, charming Evaline Stoker (sister of famous Bram Stoker- author of Dracula) and Mina Holmes (niece of famous Sherlock Holmes- detective) team up for a second time in this awesome mystery. London’s favorite princess calls upon Evaline and Mina for a personal request. One of her best friends, Miss Willa Ashton, is a seventeen-year-old beauty who is heir to a large fortune. Miss Ashton’s mother has passed away, and her ten-year-old brother has recently disappeared. Out of grief, Miss Ashton has been consulting spiritual mediums that intelligent, practical minded Mina is positive are frauds who are trying to drive the fragile girl crazy, or even to her death. Meanwhile, Evaline has been sensing the presence of a large number of vampires in London, and is impatient to start hunting the undead. Are the London vampires and ghosts tied together as part of the same similar plots? Evaline and Mina are determined to find out, even if it means causing a lot of trouble, and breaking all of the rules of polite society along the way!
Ever Want to Be Someone Else? October 27, 2014
What would it be like to pretend to be a different gender? Could you keep that up for a long time? What about pretending to be a different race? What if your life depended on how well you could hide who you really were?
Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Identities by Chris Barton looks at ten different people through history who have had to change their identity to keep themselves safe and others who just wanted a lark.
Most interesting are the stories of people who created whole new personas for themselves that were needed to keep them alive. For example, Solomon Perel was a young Jewish boy, trying to survive during World War II, and he hid in plain sight. You’ll have to read the book to find out how. Or what about the husband and wife who were slaves and came up with a plan to get their freedom, if they weren’t caught be slave catchers first.
This is a quick read that will have you thinking about who you might like to pretend to be, and if you could pull it off!
Recommended for grades 7 and up.
This Book Has IMPACT October 17, 2014
Full disclosure – I’m not a big fan of football. Never have been. But I know lots of people love the sport. Really, LOVE it. Can’t get enough of it. Can’t wait for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and now Thursday for their fix of football. Now though, there are headlines about former players losing their mental abilities to depression, early dementia, and even more occurrences of ALS and Parkinson’s Disease. How can a game that so many love, be so deadly? Has it always been this way, or is this a new development?
Turns out, when football was first being played in the late 1800s there was controversy surrounding the brutality of the sport. Many, many players died. It wasn’t unusual for a season to have 20 deaths. These were among college football players. Some began to believe that the sport needed to have massive changes if it was to continue, because the idea that young men could lose their lives playing a game became too much. In fact, even President Teddy Roosevelt, in 1905 became involved. He didn’t want the sport to go away and he wanted the coaches of the big college teams, Harvard and Yale to figure out a way to make it a little bit safer.
So things changed a bit. However, what didn’t change was the impact to players’ heads. Most people look at the helmet and think, “Well, they have protection.” However, the helmet does nothing to protect the brain inside the player’s skull. We now have the technology to measure “hits” that players’ brains are absorbing. Many hits are recorded at 100g, which is the equivalent of running into a brick wall at 20 mph. So you think only professionals are hitting this hard? No, these hits have been recorded being taken by 7 and 8 year olds.
What is the impact of all these hits? Well, concussions are one, but in the book Fourth Down and Inches by Carla Killough McClafferty, it turns out that repeated hits, which don’t lead to concussions, can still impact how a person processes information. In other words, their brains are being damaged by those repeated hits, even if they don’t get a concussion.
Now we see how older players, and by older, I mean early 40s, who are having terrible mental problems. Why? Something has been identified in the brains of athletes who have died, called CTE. It is progressive brain damage and what is shocking is younger players have been shone to have it, after they have died. One as young as 15 years old.
So the question becomes, is it still worth it?
Fascinating book, for anyone who has ever played the game of football, is still playing and anyone who loves the game itself. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.
Going for Gold! October 7, 2014
So imagine hearing there is just money to be had lying around? What would you do? Would you go for it? That is the situation that happened in 1897 when a steamer came into Seattle with sixty-eight men who unloaded thousands and thousands of dollars worth of gold in cans, bags, blankets and even moccasins. Yes, the second great gold rush in the history of the United States had begun, and it wasn’t even on American soil. It was in Canada, but that didn’t stop Americans from making the long journey to the cold, arctic area of the Klondike.
What makes the book Call of the Klondike by David Meissner and Kim Richardson so fascinating is the personal, first hand accounts of two adventures’ who were inspired after seeing those 68 men disembark from that ship. The two men were Stanley Pearce and Marshall Bond, who were friends and both came from mining families. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and both had families that could set them up nicely for an outfit. So they took off for the Klondike quickly to get ahead of any others who would be taken over by gold lust. And they were right to go, because a huge wave of gold seekers were just a few months behind them.
Getting to the area where gold had been found wasn’t easy. First there was a four or five day boat ride, followed by 500 miles of trails and lakes, much of it done in cold, icy rain, or freezing cold weather.
This book looks at the lives of these two men through letters home to their parents, and the journal one of them kept during this adventurous year in our country’s history to give us a rare glimpse into this rush and the hardships many faced for a chance at getting rich.
Great read for grades 6th and up.
Can Small Acts Of Good Really Make a Difference? October 3, 2014
Summer is stretching out in front of Nina as one long event, with not a lot going on to break it up. Her parents are super consumed with a big trail case they are preparing for, her older brother Matt is getting ready to head off to college by pulling further away, and her best friend and neighbor Jorie seems more different than ever. So what’s a girl to do?
Lying in the hammock in her family’s front yard, Nina sees a neighbor with a broken leg struggle to plant her flowers and then give up. She knows her neighbor always plants marigolds, but clearly she can’t with a broken leg. It is in that moment that Nina gets an idea. An idea that her grandmother, who died the year before, talked to her about many times. It’s the idea of Simple Truths (STs), that sometimes it’s the smallest things that end up meaning the most.
In that instant, Nina decides she will take each day that remains of summer, and do one small act of kindness for someone. She will focus on her neighborhood first.
The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz will have you cheering for Nina and hopeful for her neighborhood, her family and her friends. This is the kind of book you want to rush through, but when it ends, you are sad. Take time to enjoy this fun, poignant gem.
Recommended for grades 6th and up with appeal to much older students.
School Has Been Taken Over September 28, 2014
What would you do if your school had been taken over by a reality TV show? At first, Ethan doesn’t really think much of it. He wasn’t picked to be one of the contestants vying for the grand prize of a scholarship to an Arts college of his choice. He likes the fact that one of the contestants is a senior named Maura, so he can watch her without feeling creepy. After all, all of America is watching her on the TV show, and this show gives him the opportunity to do just that, in addition to feeding his fixation during English class, which he has with her also. Maura is the girl of his dreams, in that he’s never actually talked to her, but has had a crush on her for three years.
So while most everyone at school is just going along, Ethan is surprised when his best friend, Luke, begins to really pitch a fit about the show. He gets his other friends, Elizabeth and Jackson, riled up too. They all decide they will publish Luke’s scathing long poem about the vileness of the show, For Art’s Sake, which has taken over their school. With the assistance/ non assistance of their English teacher, BradLee, their poem creates a stir within the school and within the show, For Art’s Sake.
However, it quickly takes a turn none of the original four expected. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer is a funny, serious, thoughtful look at growing up without knowing where you are going or how to get there. This has to be one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
Recommended for mature 8th graders with a fabulous vocabulary and up. Enjoy!
Clockwork Prince September 19, 2014
Nimira feels stuck. She came to this new country to escape her old one where she had nothing but a broken father after the death of her mother. Her father, who used to be high up in rank within the structure of their society, began losing all their money because of his sorrow.
Nimira however, has not found the great escape she was hoping for when she left her father and her old country behind. In fact, she struggles to make ends meet as a young dancing and singing girl, commonly referred to as a trouser girl. Yet one night, a young, wealthy sorcerer comes to see her performance and asks her to come meet with him to discuss a business proposition. Nimira is hesitant at first, not sure she wants to become involved with sorcerers and the magic they can wield, but as she considers her circumstances, she realizes she needs to hear what this man, Hollin, has to say.
It turns out Hollin needs a singer to accompany his automaton – a clockwork man – who plays the piano. Hollin says he has hired other girls to sing, but they all ran away, saying the automaton was haunted. Intrigued, Nimira decides to take a chance and go to Hollin’s house to meet with the automaton. After just a little bit of time with this strange clockwork man, Nimira knows there is something living about this man, and she must do whatever it takes to help him.
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore gives us glimpses of what life would be like if fairies flew and sorcerers staffs really could have magic in them. This book gives you just the right amount of fantasy and romance as Nimira has to make hard choices that will ultimately impact the rest of her life.
Recommended for 7th graders and up who likes a bit of fantasy and romance.