Author Archives: Elysse F.

September 19, 2013

Duke by Kirby Larson

Posted by at 1:07 am in Reads | Permalink

duke130Duke by Kirby Larson

It is 1944, in the midst of World War II. Eleven-year-old Hobie Hansen desperately misses his father, a pilot flying for Uncle Sam overseas.

Hobie and his dog, Duke, are as close to each other as dog and boy can be. They do everything together: play fetch, eat, go to the grocer, listen to Hop Harrigan’s show and even sleep together! Then a Mr. Rasmussen appears, and asks Hobie to “loan” Duke to the Army for a program called “Dogs for Defense.” After thinking long and hard, Hobie decides to “DO everything he can” for his country and lets Duke go.

Hobie feels lost without Duke at his side. A new boy named Max arrives at school, but can he fill the void his father and Duke left behind?

From the start, Hobie and Duke will wiggle their way into your heart. Dog owners (and pet lovers), and especially World War II history buffs will enjoy this story of epic bravery. Kirby Larson really knows her stuff, and you will be transported back in time to 1944!

 Read a sample chapter and share your thoughts in the Comments below!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

September 11, 2013

Seeing Red

Posted by at 9:57 am in Reads | Permalink

Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine (for ages 10 and up)

Fredrick “Red” Porter is beside himself when his beloved father dies. His mother has fallen apart; his younger brother J is acting out, and his best friend Thomas won’t speak to him anymore. It is up to Red to keep the spirit of his father’s family business (car shop, gas station and “What-U-Want” convenience store) alive. But at twelve years old, there is only so much he can do.

When Red’s mother decides to move the family to Ohio, Red tries everything to stop his house from being sold, including acts of vandalism, and skipping school. There are boys his age who peer-pressure Red into doing things he knows are wrong, but poor Red is at a loss as to what to think.

This captivating historical fiction novel deals with heavy topics such as racism, abuse, and death in a way that makes you think about injustices in this world. In the end, Kathryn Erskine’s work gives a profound feeling of hope for the future.

Read a sample chapter and give us the skinny on what you think of this book in the Comments below.


September 4, 2013


Posted by at 10:55 am in Reads | Permalink

Goblins by Philip Reeve

“There had been a time when all goblins had been servants of the same great sorcerer, the Lych Lord, who had raised Clovenstone and ruled the whole world from his Stone Throne.”

Skarper is different than other goblins. Sure, he likes his fair share of shiny things and loves spider soup. He can read and he is clever, qualities which result in him being catapulted out of the goblins’ home! Separated from his books and the secret Stenoryon’s map, Skarper will do anything to steal back his treasure.goblins

Henwyn is a “softling” who has a knack for getting into trouble. Banished from his hometown of Adherak, due to an unfortunate incident with a cheese monster, Henwyn decides to follow his dreams and become a hero. Armed with a blunt sword and high hopes, Henwyn sets out to rescue Princess Eluned, only to find quite the surprise.

Magic is brewing deep within the bowels of Clovenstone, ready to explode! Many will fight to harness this power, but only one can rule on the Stone Throne. A human, goblin, troll, giant, or three sorcerers – who will it be?

Philip Reeve presents a hilarious fantasy tale, packed with adventure and magical creatures. Do you think you have what it takes to go on this quest? Give this book a chance! Read a sample chapter. Then leave a Comment below!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

August 21, 2013

Claws, a Book for Cat Lovers

Posted by at 10:51 am in Reads | Permalink

Claws by Mike and Rachel Grinti

“Emma only knew a little about cats, but what she knew wasn’t exactly comforting. They could talk, but they rarely bothered to talk to humans. They could change their size and become huge, the size of lions or bigger. And they’d been known to hunt humans, though there hadn’t been any incidents in a long time. That anyone knew about.”

When Emma’s sister Helena went missing, Emma had no idea how much it would turn her world clawsupside-down. Emma’s parents spent all of their savings, leaving no stone unturned in the search for their oldest daughter. After losing their restaurant, Emma and her parents moved into a trailer park in a dangerous neighborhood filled with crags, a.k.a. magical beings. Coatl, dwarves, trolls, fairies, hags, harpies, ratters, and centaurs are just a few of the creatures that moved into Emma’s world at the same time as the forest magically grew over Old Downtown. Oh yeah, and then there’s the cats.

Jack is the cat who lives in Emma’s trailer because he has been kicked out his pride. Emma would do anything to find her sister, so when Jack offers her the “Pride-Heart,” Emma accepts the cat magic even though it’s dangerous. Although nearly unheard of, this human turned Pride-Heart must trust that Jack will guide and protect her on this perilous journey.

Cat lovers, this book is a must-read! Actually, anyone who likes fantasy should read this book. Are you excited to read this book? Tell us in the Comments below.

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

August 7, 2013

The Path of Names Book Review

Posted by at 2:47 am in Reads | Permalink

pathofnames130The Path of Names by Ari Goelman

Thirteen-year-old math whiz, magic-loving Dahlia is not happy. Her parents are sending her to Camp Arava, a Jewish camp where her older brother Tom works. If she survives one week and still wants to come home, Dahlia can and still go to magic camp at the end of the summer.
On her first day, Dahlia sees two little girls walk through the cabin’s wall! If it is not a magic trick, the alternative is just too hard to believe: The girls may be ghosts! Could it be?
As Dahlia and her friend Rafe do some digging for clues about the missing girls, other strange things begin to happen. A mysterious book is found and manages to keep finding its way into Dahlia’s hands. Dahlia has vivid recurring dreams of the author of the mysterious book that she can’t make heads or tails of. The sisters keep re-appearing trying to tell her something important which she can’t figure out until someone claims that they can hear the little girls. And then… there’s the mysterious maze on the edge of the campground.
Told from multiple points of view, this incredible story will appeal to every kind of reader, but especially those interested in mysteries and magic. Let us know what you think about this summer camp read in the Comments below!
—Elysse, STACKS Writer

June 26, 2013

Romeo Blue Review

Posted by at 12:20 pm in Reads | Permalink

romeoBlueRomeo Blue by Phoebe Stone

It has been a year since half-American/half-British Felicity Bathburn Budwig was dropped off in Bottlebay, Maine. A lot has happened in that one year.
Eccentric Felicity (dubbed “Flissy”) fits right in with her kooky Bathburn relatives in more ways than one. She’s dramatic like Aunt Miami, practical like The Gram, and loves books just as much as Uncle Gideon. Then there’s her secret crush, Derek, who has been unofficially adopted by the Bathburns.

The year is 1942, right smack in the middle of World War II, and she hasn’t heard from her parents in months. Flissy knows they are up to something dangerous overseas; why else would they leave her behind? Flissy has lots of questions about what her parents are really doing, but no one seems to want to answer them. To make matters worse, Derek seems to be slowly drifting away ever since his biological father got back in touch with him.RomeoAndJulietCode

This book is a good fit for many types of readers: those who love history, those who are fascinated by World War II, and thrill-seekers. Of course, if you loved Flissy and Derek’s adventures in The Romeo and Juliet Code, then Romeo Blue is a must-read.

What do you think of this book? Does it sound like the cat’s pajamas? Or a drag? Leave your thoughts in the Comments!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

June 19, 2013

Hide and Seek Book Review

Posted by at 1:51 am in Reads | Permalink

Hide and Seek by Kate Messner

José, Anna, and Henry’s parents are in the Silver Jaguar Society, a group dedicated to finding, preserving, and protecting world artifacts. So when they discover that the prized golden Jaguar Cup has been swapped for a fake, they hop onto an airplane headed straight for Costa Rica.

Upon their arrival, the families are informed that a Society member named Alejandro planted the fake in the Washington, D.C. display on purpose to keep the artifact protected. The problem is, before Alejandro can whisk the cup to safety, someone stole it from him. Now the artifact is truly lost.
Hide and seek book cover

The adults are in San José, while the children get stranded in the rainforest after an earthquake. José, Anna, and Henry, along with their family friend’s daughter Sofia, decide to search in their neck of the forest for the missing artifact. But with danger at every turn, new mysteries emerge. Who can they trust? Is there a traitor in their midst? Could the Serpentine Princes be behind this?

The smart-thinking trio from Capture the Flag reunites in this sequel, using their problem solving and spying skills to crack the case. Are they successful? Read the book and find out!
If you enjoyed this wild adventure, drop us a vine . . . ahem . . .I mean line in the Comments below!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

May 22, 2013

New Dear America Book Review

Posted by at 1:48 am in Reads | Permalink

Writing_prompt_book_recommendationDear America: A City Tossed and Broken: The Diary of Minnie Bonner, San Francisco, California 1906 by Judy Blundell

“I discovered a change at that moment, diary. If you see enough destruction, if you feel helpless in the face of it, if you’ve been terrified enough times, there does come a moment when you cannot bear one more thing to be lost. I was tired of being afraid.” – Minnie Bonner

It is the spring of 1906. The tavern which has been in her mother’s family for generations was lost due to a horrible gamble made by Minnie’s father. Now, Minnie is being sent away from her home in Philadelphia to San Francisco to work as a lady’s maid of the new owners of the tavern. It is not the way she imagined her life would be, answering to the arrogant and fickle Mrs. Sump, as well as her daydreamer of a daughter Lilly.

Days after their arrival in San Francisco, a horrible earthquake devastates the city, including the brand-new Sump mansion. Shaken and alone, Minnie finds herself among the thousands of homeless residents of San Francisco. She must rely on the kindness of strangers as well as make decisions that challenge her morals in A City Tossed and Broken.

Read Chapter 1. 

Let us know what you think of this new addition to the Dear America series in the Comments!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

May 15, 2013

Dragon Run Book Review

Posted by at 4:06 pm in Reads | Permalink

Dragonrun_2Dragon Run by Patrick Matthews

Testing Day doesn’t go as 12-year-old Al Pilgrommor expects. Born into a wealthy family, he expects to follow in his successful father's footsteps. Of course, that all depends on the rank number Al receives at the testing. On a scale of one to seven, Al scores a zero, and the number is permanently tattooed on the back of his neck. Not good.

Now, instead of celebrating with his friends and family, Al needs to run away from the Cullers, men who hunt down zeroes . . . and put them to death. Left with a little bit of money and a sword he barely knows how to use, Al must use his wits to evade these ruthless assassins.

Surrounded by enemies, Al doesn’t know whom to trust. But as he meets other outcasts, he begins to suspect that he is a pawn in a larger game — and that he might have the power to tip the scales in a high-stakes struggle between man and dragon. Could the fate of the world rest in his hands? Can a zero become a hero?

This gripping book is a must-read for all fantasy and magic lovers. Filled with adventure, humor, and loveable characters, I could not put this book down! You cannot help but root for Al as he travels throughout the land, and while you’re reading, it feels like you are along for the ride.

Don’t you want to read this book? Let us know what you think in the Comments.

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

April 17, 2013

Infestation Book Review

Posted by at 3:38 am in Reads | Permalink

Infestation book cover by Timothy J. BradleyInfestation by Timothy J. Bradley

You’ll never look at bugs the same way again after reading this gruesome tale!

Andy Greenwood is what you’d called a “troubled youth.” After a string of naughty behavior (including running away from FOUR foster homes, and setting a car on fire), Andy is sent to the Reclamation School for Boys. It’s that, or he has to spend time in a juvenile detention center.

Turns out, the Reclamation School is worse than any prison he could imagine.
Stuck in the middle of the Arizona desert in an ant-infested building without air-conditioning, Andy is surrounded by hundreds of other boys who are always looking to pick a fight. But after an earthquake, Andy discovers it isn’t just bullies he has to look out for. There are giant mutant bugs that are eating the students and adults! In order to survive, the boys must put their fighting aside and band together.

This story will make your heart pound as the boys race to escape this prison. Full of action, mystery, and gore, anyone who loves a thrill will enjoy this book. Let us know what you think in the Comments section!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer