Author Archives: Elysse F.

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

Hideandseek130Hide 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.

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

April 10, 2013

When the Butterflies Came Book Review

Posted by at 3:40 am in Reads | Permalink

9780545425131_xlgWhen the Butterflies Came
by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Murder, mystery, and . . . butterflies?
There are secrets the townspeople wouldn't suspect about 12-year-old Tara Doucet. First of all, Tara feels like her world is falling apart. Her depressed mother won't leave her room and may be taken away to a mental hospital. Tara keeps fighting with her sister Riley about everything, including the volume of the screaming Riley calls music. Even more horrible, Grammy Claire, the person she was closest to in the whole world, just died!

On the day of the funeral, Tara notices purple and pink butterflies are following her everywhere. Can they be a sign from Grammy Claire? Then Tara starts receiving letters and keys from Grammy Claire from beyond the grave. They are filled with warnings and information that don’t make sense. What can all of this mean? Tara is the only one who can figure out the clues left behind in an ultimate scavenger hunt that can mean life or death. It is of upmost importance that no one else knows what she is up to, since someone is also after the same secret Tara is trying to uncover. When unexplainable and dangerous things start happening, Tara knows that she can’t trust anyone but Riley.

This beautifully written tale of magic isn’t for the faint of heart. Did you find you couldn’t put it down? Or do you think you are smarter than Tara and could figure out the clues like it was a piece of cake? For those who do read the book, let us knows what you think in the Comments!

If you like When the Butterflies Came, check out Kimberley Griffiths Little’s other books:
The Healing Spell, Circle of Secrets, The Last Snake Runner, Enchanted Runner, and Breakaway Avon.

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

March 20, 2013

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers Book Review

Posted by at 12:21 am in Reads | Permalink

Lincoln's Grave Robbers book cover by Steve SheinkinLincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin

Question: How are master counterfeiter Benjamin Boyd and Abraham Lincoln connected?
Answer: The friends of one guy tried to steal the other guy’s dead bones.

Counterfeiting was a big problem in the United States during the Civil War when the U.S. Treasury began mass-producing paper currency, and people began using paper money instead of just coins. Crafty people figured out how to make copies of dollar bills, and then criminals spent the “coneys” (counterfeit money) just like real money.

Benjamin Boyd was a highly talented engraver, notorious for his nearly perfect copies of real money. Once Boyd was arrested, many criminal networks crumbled without Boyd’s expert handiwork. Criminals, Jack Hughes, Terrence Mullen, and James Kennally decided that something needed to be done, so they came up with a crazy plan. They would steal President Lincoln’s remains out of his coffin, and ransom them for $200,000 and Boyd’s freedom. But first, they had to get a team of body snatchers to do the job. . .

This book tells the thrilling true story of how 3 men plotted and nearly executed a plan to break into Abraham Lincoln’s tomb and steal his remains. If you’re looking for a juicy, action-filled bit of American history, this book is certainly worth checking out. It’s full of mystery and suspense, and it reads more like an adventure story than a history lesson. (It has cool pictures too!) Sheinkin switches perspectives between the crooks and the Secret Service agents, so readers get to see both sides of the law as the great Abraham Lincoln grave robbery takes place.

Let us know in the Comments if you like this book, and suggest other fun history reads as well!

— Elysse, STACKS Writer

February 27, 2013

Starring Jules As Herself Book Review

Posted by at 1:12 am in Reads | Permalink

StarringjulesStarring Jules (As Herself)
by Beth Ain

"That's how you make a fizzy ice-cream cone / That's how you do it / That's how you do it."

Jules Bloom sure has plenty of pizzazz! She was just minding her own business, singing her fizzy ice-cream cone jingle when casting agent Colby Kingston overhears her. Obviously, Colby can’t help but be impressed. She sees something special in Jules, and invites her to audition for a Swish Mouthwash commercial. Jules couldn’t be more excited – until she sees that the mouthwash is orange-flavored!! The last time she had an orange she threw up! Yuck!Jules looks to everyone for help with her orange-phobia: friends, family, and even her ex-best-friend-Charlotte-Stinkytown.

On top of the audition stress, Jules is desperate to become friends with the lovely Elinor, a new student from London. Meanwhile,
her ex-best friends The ABC’s (Abby, Brynn, and Charlotte) seem to be taking up
different interests from Jules—including a whole lot of attitude! Luckily, Grandma Gilda is always on her side.

The shining star of Beth Ain’s new book, Starring Jules (As Herself) knows she’s on her way to becoming famous, but she just has to get through the audition first. And how does the audition go? Well, read the book and see! After you do, tell us what you would have done if you were in Jules’ shoes in the Comments below!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer

February 20, 2013

A Dog and His Girl Mysteries: Play Dead

Posted by at 1:11 am in Reads | Permalink

9780545436243_xlg_2A Dog and his Girl Mysteries Book #1: Play Dead by Jane B. Mason and Sarah Hines Stephens

"Ah. I loved it under the table. I was hard to see there. I was nearly invisible. Undercover. Not an easy thing to pull off when you’re a ninety-pound German shepherd."

Dodge, though retired from his job as a police dog, never lets go of a case once he sniffs one out. Good thing his girl Cassie (the Police Chief's daughter) has a similar sense of smell. The dynamic duo believes there's something fishy going on when the town's richest man disappears after swimming near the dangerous Tempest Point.

No one seemed to care about the grumpy old man until he went missing. The problem is there was no will. Now, suddenly, the town mayor, the housekeeper, a supposed fiancée, and an unheard-of twin all claim the right to the Ward estate. Can Dodge and Cassie solve this inheritance riddle?

Told from both Cassie's and Dodge's point of view, the reader of this book can't help but get caught up in the thrill of the chase. Play Dead is the first in a series recommended to dog lovers and mystery lovers alike, so keep your noses ready for action! And don't forget to share your notes in the Comments!

—Elysse, STACKS Writer