Thursday, May 29, 2014


Author: Garth Nix
Reviewer: Todd & Lydia
Ratings: 5/5 and 4/5 stars$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:461812/one?qu=sabriel+garth+nix&lm=ROUND_LAKE&dt=list


Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny. . . . From

Todd: 5/5 Stars

Sabriel was an interesting tale of a daughter thrust into a world she scantly knows about, and a role she never assumed would be hers. The tale and the character are an interesting creation, a young lady who just turned eighteen and happens to have magic over the dead. This is a skill which is important to have and know when numbers of the dead are able to escape from the flow towards the final rest, letting the dead attack and drain the life from the living to prolong their stay among life.

Although, while growing up, Sabriel never realized just why her father taught her the knowledge to put down the dead and the necromancers who would call them. But when Sabriel learns of her father’s passing she departs the safety of her school to go into the Old Kingdom to find her father. But things are not simple once she finds her father’s home, and what destiny has in store for her.

Sabriel rejects that destiny coming to her so soon, and instead dedicates herself to saving her father. And therein lies what makes Sabriel so interesting as a character; she’s a rejection of the standard ideas of what a fantasy hero would be. She’s a young woman, she is a strong if limited magic user, she’s been trained in swordsman ship, and she resists falling immediately in love. This unfortunately tends to happen when the protagonist of a tale is a woman, even when the story is not romantic in nature.

The world of Sabriel/The Old Kingdom is one full of mysteries. The knowledge of the past has been lost because time’s flow and the effects of having the dead rampage the land. The magic is not yet fully defined, but as the full tale has yet to unfold perhaps that will change.

Lydia: 4/5 Stars

My fellow co-reader Todd has expertly fleshed out the intriguing story of Sabriel: within this book a young girl grows into a woman with magical powers. This story, which is the first part of a trilogy, is the perfect introduction into the high fantasy genre. The story is not entirely original, and does contain some clich├ęs. For example, unlike Todd, I believe that the romance in this story was superfluous to the plot, and progressed at far too fast a rate to be believable. However, I can overlook some of the overused plot elements since the series is geared toward a younger audience.

My favorite aspect of the novel is Sabriel herself. She is a strong, intelligent, and extremely likeable female protagonist, which I believe is a wonderful role model to have in a young adult fiction book. She manages to get into trouble throughout the story, but her wit and ingenuity allows her to escape unharmed. I look forward to seeing how she “grows up” as the series progresses.

Todd and Lydia
: On a final note, we both loved Tim Curry as the speaker of the audiobook! He imbued the story with life and substance.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Elephant's Story

Elephant's Story
Author: Tracey Campbell Pearson
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Denise Z.$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:2269695/one?qu=elephant%27s+story+tracey+campbell+pearson&lm=ROUND_LAKE&dt=list
Summary: The day Gracie loses her favorite book, Elephant finds it and the letter fun begins.
Review: This is a very cute and fun book that kids will enjoy. This picture book, about a girl who has her own favorite book and meets a friendly elephant, makes for a sweet story. Kids will giggle and learn at the same time when reading along. Each illustrated page adds even more learning opportunities for young readers as they read what the letters spell out by each of Elephant's animal friends. It is also a fun way to get kids to recognize letters scattered within each page and to notice the different types of animals that come along the way.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Heartless : Book Four of The Parasol Protectorate

Author: Gail Carriger,
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Todd

Summary: Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines, Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?

Heartless is the fourth book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking. From

Review: It’s in this book that our perceptions of characters get turned on their heads, the secrets revealed never allowing us to think of them the same way. Silliness is revealed as hiding perceptive depth, the extent that some will go for self or kin becomes known, and long hidden secrets come to light. And while a poltergeist in this universe has been seen before, it’s in this book that the process of becoming one is revealed. It’s a sad and horrifying process, something akin to rapid onset of senility. If such a condition also came with one’s body parts free floating away from them while dissolving into ether. Looking back I’d have to say that this book is about coping, it can be the small things that that help one and theirs’ get through lives. It’s also about just how far some will go to be able to survive, to keep what is precious to them safe. And those extents can be both far, and absolutely terrifying.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Dog Called Homeless

A Dog Called Homeless
Author: Sarah Lean
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Christi$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:2186725/one?qu=a+dog+called+homeless+sarah+lean&lm=ROUND_LAKE&dt=list

Summary: Fifth-grader Cally Louise Fisher stops talking, partly because her father and brother never speak of her mother who died a year earlier, but visions of her mother, friendships with a homeless man and a disabled boy, and a huge dog ensure that she still communicates.

Review: A new and powerful writer. I hope she is working on another book. I would normally steer clear of "sad" books. Someone dies at the start? Not for me. But this one caught my attention, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I'm so glad I did. I loved the friendship that grows between this girl, who has decided not to talk, and her blind and mostly deaf neighbor. The author deals with all the layers of this story and sensitive topics so brilliantly. There was just the right amount of hope, happiness, sadness, unfairness, and magic to make you not want to put this book down. A quick read that I highly recommend.

This book won the Schneider Family Book Award. The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Martian

Author: Andy Weir
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Lydia$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:2296032/one?qu=the+martian+andy+weir&lm=ROUND_LAKE&dt=list

I was extremely excited to get my hands on “The Martian,” a new release by Andy Weir which details one man’s struggle to stay alive—on Mars. Mark Watney is like no character you have ever met before: he is a mad genius with a wicked sense of humor who is willing to take risks. All three of these traits end up being the traits which sustain him as he lives alone in space. After a routine space mission leaves astronaut Mark Watney stranded on the red planet with no hope for rescue in the foreseeable future, he learns how do such things as grow crops and even make water.

The writing is not particularly beautiful—you will find no figurative language or even imagery—and the writing is precise and scientific, which makes sense considering the subject matter. My only major criticism of the novel is that the story quickly grew monotonous: Mark encountered a problem, said problem appeared to be his demise, but somehow, after only a day of hard thinking, Mark always came up with a brilliant and often far-fetched, insane plan to rectify the issue at hand. I also found myself repeatedly skipping over the heavy scientific and mathematical jargon in some of the chapters. Regardless of some confusing and/or boring parts of the book, I thoroughly enjoyed the inventive and fast-paced plot.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Duck, Duck, Moose

Duck, Duck, Moose
Author: Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Aleece$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:2311835/one?qu=duck%2C+duck+moose%21&lm=ROUND_LAKE&dt=list
Summary: Duck and Duck busily prepare for a party, while their housemate, Moose, only gets in the way.

Review: This is a super simple two word book, but the meaning that is expressed through the pictures and those two words tells the entire story. This is a great read aloud for kids because they will be laughing right along the whole way.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Author: Gail Carriger
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Todd

Summary: Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

BLAMELESS is the third book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking. –From

Review: In this tale of the Parasol Protectorate we end up being caught up in matters of betrayal and trust, more so than usual with this bunch. We see the lengths one goes to restore their good name, or more aptly what one will go through to prove their husband is a pig headed stubborn fool for not trusting in them. Because half of this volume’s plot is related to Lord Connall Maccon committing a great act of hurtful stupidity. The other half has been creeping about since last volume, rearing its head in in the form a deadly ladybug attack. Some things change while others stay the same, revelations to questions subtly hidden through the books so you may have never asked. But with those revelations, or more to be precise from some organizations knowing them before the reveal, come actions that forever change the course of several people’s fates. Humor, adventure, with tastes of sorrow and disbelief as our thoughts of the characters we’ve come to know shift. Those are the things that await whoever picks up the book, with a dash of practicality of course.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dear Teacher

Dear Teacher
Author: Amy Husband
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Helen$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:1751219/one?qu=dear+teacher+amy+husband&te=ILS&dt=list

Summary: Michael writes to his teacher before school begins in answer to her “Welcome” letter. His correspondence varies in unique manners, letter, telegrams and postcards. The reason for his responses is that Michael wants to let her know why he will not be in school on the first day.

Review: This is such a clever and unique book, from its cover which is a large decorated envelope, including flap and postage, to being fun to read. Michael is fantastic and his correspondence covers all his adventures working for all agencies, including NASA to the Secret Service; racing on motorcycles and even walking the plank for pirates.  I really enjoyed reading it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Bread We Eat in Dreams

Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Todd

Subterranean Press proudly presents a major new collection by one of the brightest stars in the literary firmament. Catherynne M. Valente, the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and other acclaimed novels, now brings readers a treasure trove of stories and poems in The Bread We Eat in Dreams.

In the Locus Award-winning novelette “White Lines on a Green Field,” an old story plays out against a high school backdrop as Coyote is quarterback and king for a season. A girl named Mallow embarks on an adventure of memorable and magical politicks in “The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland—For a Little While.” The award-winning, tour de force novella “Silently and Very Fast” is an ancient epic set in a far-flung future, the intimate autobiography of an evolving A.I. And in the title story, the history of a New England town and that of an outcast demon are irrevocably linked.

The thirty-five pieces collected here explore an extraordinary breadth of styles and genres, as Valente presents readers with something fresh and evocative on every page. From noir to Native American myth, from folklore to the final frontier, each tale showcases Valente’s eloquence and originality. - From Publisher, Subterranean Press.

Review: This collection of Valente’s work was a delightful surprise. At this time my exposure to her non children oriented tales was limited to Yume No Hon: The Book Of Dreams. So imagine my surprise when I found this tome waiting to be feasted on. Like a large ripe apple, its meat made of worlds and the juice the life of stories.

Each story and poem in this tome showing off Valente’s skill; her use different of various styles and genres, easily slipping from reality into the realm of surreal as needed, and of course her rich knowledge of tales. Although a small warning to those expecting all the stories to be similar to her fairyland series, one or two of the tales are a bit more explicit. So if you’re planning on reading any of these stories to children, I advise you to read ahead to make your decision on it. And when you’re ready to reader I do hope you give the tales in this tome a chance. Because then you can risk those tales pulling you within their worlds, and perhaps they’ll make you shed tears. Tears of laughter at a funny twist of fate, tears as you want to pull all the people of world in your arms as you lie and say the world will be better. Tears of shock as you realize you’ve been paying the trickster’s price all along, and perhaps even a tear of sympathy for a demon.