Monday, November 29, 2010

The Keepers' Tattoo

The Keepers' Tattoo 
by Gill Arbuthnott
Young adult fantasy
425 pages
New York : Chicken House, 2010

Nyssa was orphaned as a young child and has no memories of her early life. She is lovingly raised by an innkeeper and his wife. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she is forced to flee the only home she has ever known with a man she has known her whole life, but only recently discovered is her uncle. As they run in desperation from the Shadowmen sent by the evil Alaric, Nyssa learns many things about her true heritage. She discovers she is the bearer of a special, secret tattoo. Three lines of mysterious script are hidden on her scalp, a portion of a long ago spell used to defeat another era of tyrants trying to overtake the numerous islands of the Archipelago.  Now that she understands why she is being hunted she decides to take matters into her own hands. She is a bold and brave young girl who wants to prevent evil from prevailing in her kingdom. A fabulously engrossing read!

The Poison Diaries

The Poison Diaries
by Maryrose Wood
young adult historical fantasy
278 pages
New York, NY : Balzer + Bray, 2010

Jessamine Luxton lives a solitary life with her father, an herbalist. While he tends to his special plants and patients, Jessamine does the cleaning, cooking and gardening of the traditional sort. She longs to be allowed into her father's "locked garden" yet he feels she is not ready. Her life drastically changes when an orphan boy, Weed, is dumped on their doorstep. His uncanny knowledge of the plant kingdom intrigues Jessamine's father while the boy himself fascinates her. Eventually the lives of all three are entwined with that of the dangerous poison garden. The question then becomes, who will survive the encounter? A strange, yet curiously appealing story.

Black Hole Sun

Black Hole Sun
by David Macinnis Gill
young adult science fiction
340 pages
New York, NY : Greenwillow Books, c2010

Durango is the leader of a group of soldiers-for-hire on futuristic Mars. His checkered past has led him into some interesting predicaments. He usually tries to get the most bang for his buck, but sometimes his desire to do the right thing outweighs his desire for lots of money. Thus he accepts a dangerous job in a mining community for very little pay. His team thinks he is crazy but they are sworn to follow him. Of course, nothing goes as planned. His leadership skills and his teams loyalty are challenged at every turn. Will he prevail in the end? This was an interesting yet rather annoying read. It was interesting because I love pretty much anything and everything in the genre of teen futuristic fiction. It was annoying because I had a lot of questions about the history behind the government and the soldiers role in the workings of Mars. Lots of things were mentioned but not developed so I didn't feel I had a good grasp on the world. Some of the characters were appealing and there was plenty of action so I did read the whole thing. I might even be tempted to read the next one if it seems like the author might divulge more of the back story.

Fish

Fish
by Gregory Mone
juvenile historical fiction
241 pages
New York : Scholastic Press, 2010

Maurice is the fifth child and youngest son born to the Reidy family on a small farm in Ireland. It becomes evident quite early that he isn't cut out for farm work. He is a good, peace-loving boy who accidentally discovers he has an amazing affinity for water and he swims every chance he gets. This earns him the nickname of Fish, which will serve him well in years to come. When he is about twelve years old the family horse dies which means they have no way to work their entire farm. Fish, as the least helpful on the farm, is chosen to go to the city and work for an uncle so he can send money back home. Fish quickly adapts to city life and loves his job as messenger boy for his uncle. Then one of his assignments goes terribly wrong and he unwillingly gets caught up in the world of pirates and treasure hunters. Throughout everything Fish remains an absolute hero, never wavering from his sense of right and loyalty. A fabulous adventure story with a wonderful main character. The variety of secondary characters give depth to the story and allow for some truly funny moments as well as some real nail-biters! 

Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles

Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles
by Karen Romano Young
juvenile realistic fiction
(unpaged)
New York : Feiwel and Friends, 2010

Middle-schooler Dooreen (Dodo) Bussey has had a few problems at school. So you think she would be excited about moving to a new city and starting fresh at a new school. Not so, she is still quite nervous about relocating from LA to San Francisco. On the drive there she discovers doodling and even decides to call herself "The Doodlebug". Filling her blank sketchbook with doodles of the move and her new life proves an excellent outlet for her ADD. Unfortunately, not all of her new teachers find it acceptable. Dodo and her sister Momo both face challenges at their new school and they each have unique ways of coping. Reading Doodlebug is a bit tedious at times as the writing is sometimes cramped and chaotic, causing the flow of the story to not always be clear. However, for fans of illustrated diary-type books, this is a decent one that has a real story dealing with some fairly serious issues.

The Missing Golden Ticket and other Splendiferous Secrets

The Missing Golden Ticket and other Splendiferous Secrets
Roald Dahl
ill. by Quentin Blake
juvenile biography
117 pages
New York : Puffin Books, 2010

Whether or not you are an avid Roald Dahl fan or just a casual reader, this fun-filled book will truly delight your senses. The chapters alternate Dahl's wisdom and insights from each and every month of the year with fun facts, recipes, quizzes and other delectable bonuses. There is much background information revealed about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, including an entertaining missing chapter. As always Quentin Blake's fabulous black and white illustrations bring Dahl's words to life!