Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Canary List

I just finished reading The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer.  I have to make a disclaimer--I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  The book started out a little slowly for my taste--I had trouble getting into it.  But about a quarter of the way into it, I realized I couldn't put it down!  The story picks up the pace and moves very quickly, twisting and turning until literally the last page.

The story concerns a young girl Jaime who insists she can "see" Evil when she removes her special bracelet.  She's in foster care due to the death of her parents years earlier.  But on the night the story begins, she turns to her teacher Crockett Grey for help.  Crockett has his own issues to deal with and was intent on spending the night drowning his own memories of his recently deceased daughter.  When Jaime knocks at his window, he first thinks of his daughter Ashley but realizes it's Jaime.  He enlists the help of his next door neighbor Nanna, who insists they take the girl back to her foster parents.  They arrive to find the home engulfed in flames. Crockett tries to ask for help from the police but afraid for Jaime's safety the adults take her back and she spends the night at Nanna's house.  The next day things begin to fall apart for Crockett.  Accusations of inappropriate behavior with a young girl, especially given that she is his student, follow.  The police search his house only to find a hard drive of child porn in the attic.  He is arrested and his life suddenly spins out of control.

Rather than giving in and accepting his fate, Crockett begins to try to unravel the mysteries surrounding Jaime.  Why is she seeing a child psychologist who is researching Jamie's  DNA?  Why is Nanna suddenly missing from her home next door?  Who's paying the high priced lawyer who came from out of nowhere to defend Crockett?  The trail leads him all the way to the highest levels of the Catholic church in Rome where a scandal of unbelievable proportions is threatening to explode and expose all manner of Evil.

The book, reminiscent of Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, puts forth realistic explanations of many of the recent scandals within the Catholic Church.  After a slow start, the twists and turns of the plot keep the reader guessing until the very end.

The first few pages of the book can be found here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My to do list....

Wow looking at my upcoming reading list---I better get busy!  It's so fun to have so many authors interested in having me review their books!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Saturday author visit

Austin author Chris Barton will be speaking at the Cedar Park Public Library this Saturday about his new book Can I See Your ID? Chris was kind enough to talk to me some today at the TLA Annual Assembly meeting in downtown Austin. His book is a non-fiction book of teens who assumed identities of others, including Frank Abagnale from Catch Me If You Can.

Can I See Your ID?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shelter: A Mickey Bolitar mystery by Harlan Coben

recommeded for Grades 9-12

Harlan Coben’s first novel for young adults starts off fast and keeps going strong until the end of the story. Mickey Bolitar had a happy, globe-trotting family who was settling down in one spot while Mickey completed high school. But now due to a series of family tragedies—his father was killed in a car accident , and his mother is spending time in rehab to shake her drug habit brought on by the accident, Mickey finds himself living with his uncle Myron. On his way to school one morning, Mickey sees the Bat Lady, an old woman who lives in a run down, dilapidated old house in town. She tells him his father is not dead, but when Mickey tries to talk to her more, she disappears. Strangely enough the one girl at school Mickey finds attractive also disappears. But when Mickey tries to find out more about Ashley and her disappearance, he learns more than he bargained for about Ashley, the Bat Lady and his own family. He meets an eccentric cast of characters in town, from Spoon who has a tendency to spout tidbits of odd information at the wrong time to Ema, a self-proclaimed “fat girl” who dresses all in black, is covered in tattoos and has some secrets of her own to Rachel, the hottest girl in the school, who seems to have eyes only for Mickey. Myron Bolitar, the protagonist in Coben’s adult mystery series and Mickey’s uncle , has a supporting role in this story. He is trying to take care of Mickey but doesn’t really know how to be a parent so Mickey is given more freedom than most teens, therefore, giving him the opportunity to search for answers. Edgy and action- filled, the novel has interesting, likeable characters without provocative scenes or language and should fly off the shelves with readers of both sexes. The ending ties up some of the loose ends in the story but very definitely leaves the reader hanging for a sequel. Hopefully this will be first in a long series of Mickey Bolitar mysteries!

Monday, July 18, 2011


This site is my page to share books and reviews. Many of my reviews have been published in School Library Journal over the past years.

I have been a teacher and librarian for more than 30 years. My primary focus in reviewing has always been YA literature but I am looking to expand my horizons. Please contact me if you have need of a reviewer for any writings.

Spy by Anna Myers

From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—Myers's novel about Nathan Hale shows the human side of history by using fictional characters to tell a story of everyday people caught up in monumental events. The perspective switches between that of Hale, a young schoolteacher, and his student Jonah, a 12-year-old orphan taken in by Nathan's wealthy cousin, Samuel. All of New London, CT, is talking about the dumping of British tea into Boston Harbor, and the townspeople are slowly dividing themselves into loyalists and patriots. Though Mr. Samuel is a Tory, Jonah is unsure of his own feelings. Eventually, Nathan joins General Washington's army as an officer and reluctantly agrees to take the dishonorable assignment of spying on British troops in New York City. Meanwhile, Samuel moves his family there, seeking a haven from the persecution loyalists are receiving. When Jonah runs into Nathan and confronts him, Nathan feels forced to reveal the truth about his work. Thinking his mentor deceitful, a devastated Jonah spills the story to Samuel. Soon after, Nathan is arrested, charged with treason, and sentenced to hang. Though Samuel suddenly has the money to journey to England, Jonah, feeling responsible for his teacher's death, instead heads for Washington's army. Set against clearly delineated historical events, the story employs personal thoughts and feelings to show the conflicts facing the colonists. This well-written novel is a good supplement to American history studies.—Diana Pierce, Leander High School, TX
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